Napalm Records (2012)
If the word on the street is to be believed “Psalms for the Dead” is the final album Candlemass will ever release, thus marking the end of almost 30 year’s studio work for a band that is seen by many as one of the leaders in modern doom metal. Having said that, the band still intend to tour, although without vocalist Robert Lowe who has been relieved of duties due to ‘inconsistent live performance’. By this stage we’ve all seen enough reunions we thought would never happen, so whether we believe this really is the final offering from the band is questionable.
Ever since the Messiah Marcolin days, I have checked Candlemass out every few years and always been impressed by the quality of their riffing, the vocal performances and their epic take on the genre. However, even though I’ve picked up a few CD’s, I’ve never fully given my heart to the band or counted myself as a fan. So is “Psalms for the Dead” the record that will finally change all that?
The first thing that strikes the listener is the amount of hard work that has obviously gone into this offering. One gets the feeling that the band worked on every guitar line, melody and idea until they had gotten the most possible mileage out of it and polished them so that they really could be the best Candlemass could produce. And, on this occasion, I’m happy to report that their efforts have paid off. Each song has been so well crafted that they take the listener by the hand and carry them off on an odyssey that evokes the fantasy-based world view of the band while engaging the emotions and rocking out at the same time. The musicianship is excellent throughout – intros, middle-eights and solos all showing off the extremely high level of skill of all involved. Highlights for me are “Dancing in the Temple” and “The Lights of Thebe”.
Ultimately though, I think this falls into the same category as previous Candlemass releases for me. While I respect the band and really enjoyed most of this album, there are still places where I felt the riffs could have been better, the production more impactful and the overall effect more convincing. Still, this is as good as anything that I’ve heard the guys put out and I can’t imagine fans of the band being disappointed by it... unless the rumours are true and the world is really never going to have another studio release from the legends that are Candlemass!
Rating: 5 / 6
Composed by Peter Loftus