To Doom Or not To Doom? No, let us talk in Solitude instead.

On the 18th of November this year Candlemass released their new album “Sweet Evil Sun”. After 18 months or so in the making.

I had the privilege to sit down and talk to a man who plays heavy but talks fast. It is amazing how much you can fit into 26 or so minutes of conversation. It goes fast when Mappe Björkman starts to talk. It was a fun conversation to have with the doom riffing, long standing member of what is often called the founding band of Doom metal. Something that Mappe himself is a little bit hesitant to have any credit for as you will be able to read a bit later in this interview.

This call took place on the afternoon of a somewhat cold and dark day in the later stages of 2022. Suiting to talk a bit of doom surrounded by darkness.

All of you lot are working during the daytime, isn´t that so?

Mappe: Yes, but it is me, Johan & Leif that are doing the interviews, I have a restaurant (Garlic & Shots), so I am working evening time. We are trying to rigorously stick to the set schedules to make the day-to-day events as smooth as possible. I enjoy it, we have been fully booked with a load of these interviews, 5 in a day at least for the new album.

We see that after the pandemic (that we are still in) people release left right and center like there is no tomorrow.

Mappe: Yes, the festival bookings are the same. Bands have hibernated in the pipeline for 2 years and are now finally getting to play these festivals. Everything in this business has been postponed. We are playing Gävle now in the late autumn (later cancelled due to TADC filing for bankruptcy, the gig was planned for 3rd of December), it is going to be a blast! All bands are going on the road now.

There is also the thing of, not trying to outdo yourself every time with a new release or show. Bu you do have the pressure and demand to produce stuff that people like. Even if we have done this for a very long time. That pressure is still there to this day. After 37 years we still have to do this. Of course, we do this to satisfy the fans of Candlemass, but we also do it because to fill our own needs and wishes with what we do as a band. We try to produce music that we feel is good and that we can stand up for.

When talking to Mappe about how the band functions, you start to think that a band works like a brand in many ways. They product develop, they take in what their customers (fans) want and the continuously try to move their product forward to keep it on the market. Of course, the similarities are there and always have been (cue KISS) but I for one does not think about it this way that often. But this is what makes quite a bit of these guys livelihood.

CANDLEMASS – When Death Sighs (Official Lyric Video) | Napalm Records – YouTube

 

Mappe: The last album, a lot of stuff happened during that process and then Johan came in at the end of it when everything was recorded. A lot of stuff happened during that recording that we had not counted on. Mats (Levén) had already recorded all the vocals, but we re recorded it with Johan.

We talked about this before recording the new album, to learn from passed experiences and to use that learning in this recording. Leif´s songs are always good songs; I have played with him for 37 or. So, I am not worried about the quality of the material, but how do we make the songs sound like Candlemass, but new and fresh? In my opinion we have done that in a really good way.

I can only agree with that. When listening to the new album my first notes were “How many heavy riffs can you fit onto one album?” And relating to myself regarding Candlemass, I have not been with you since day 1, my first purchase was Chapter VI. For me in the early days of Candlemass, I had not found the heavier side of music then. I have gone back and educated myself later.

Mappe: That is a really good take on it! I have to come back at you with one thing that I think about when you say that. Wherever we play, if it is Mexico or Östersund, we talk about one thing quite often. We have fans that were not even born when we started to play. Now we have generations of the same family front row sporting Candelmass t-shirts.  They have done the same thing as you have and revisited our old stuff and can headbang with their parents at our shows.

When going to look at our own references and inspirations, you have the obvious connection to Black Sabbath, but we also listened to bands like Angel Witch, Trouble and Venom. There was a whole era of stuff that inspired Candlemass. So, in a way you see, kids today that find Black Sabbath also find Candlemass the same way. Also helped by the hype that Sabbath has had the last 10-20 years.

Personally, I like to listen to the newer bands doing 70´s again in a new setting with new and fresh eyes.

Mappe: Yes! There is a re-wamp and a new ignition time for that music. You still go back and listen to the classics and use them as inspiration in this new time. The classics are the classics and are to be respected as such. When you feel the smell of those classics you become 10 years old again. There is a feeling in those classics that feel like your life, because in one way they have and are a part of your life. It is not just the music; it is the experiences you have had during your life with that music. You can take it back to the first band article you read, the first band you saw live. It is about the era you grew up in and the bands that were a part of your life at that time. They will somehow stay with you forever. In your life.

 

I will use my experience from your latest album to talk about that. One of my favorite songs on the album is “When Death Sighs”. I love the duet for the vocals with Johan and Jennie-Ann from Avatarium.

Mappe: Cool! That is one of my favorite songs as well. Both the feeling of the song in general and I love the last part of the song. This is the first time we have Johan combining with a female voice in Jennie-Ann. It sticks out on a Candlemass album in one way, but in a very good way just like you say.

The album sounds Candlemass in many ways, but just like you point out, “When Death Sighs” does stand out a little bit and also stands for the new edition so to speak.

Mappe: Yes, you are right in that it sounds like Candlemass. But with Johan back, he has had to work quite hard to nails the vocals the way it ended up. He could for the first time work for a year with the vocals. He has had a proper chance to work with the album this time. I feel you can hear that in the end result. Many say like you do, it sounds Candlemass with the riffs and so on. But it sounds like Candlemass updated. I feel that if you do not like this album with and by Candlemass then you do not like Candlemass. We are not your music. And that is ok, we all have different taste in music. But I feel it represents Candlemass as a band.

(2042) CANDLEMASS – Scandinavian Gods (Official Video) | Napalm Records – YouTube

 

 

Sometimes bands refer to albums as they are going back to their roots and so on. And depending on where they have travelled during their time as a band this can to me feel a bit more of a duty instead of where you want to go. I do not get that with Candlemass.

Mappe: We do really heavy riffs, but we incorporate other things in the heavy stuff. “Psalms for the Dead” we had a lot of keyboards for example. Now we have them a bit, but not as much. The core of Candlemass is in the heavy riffs, but the music around that can be both harmonic and give room for different expressions in the songs. There is a foundation in metal. It is fantastic that we get credit for starting the genre Doom metal, it might not be the whole truth, but it has become the norm and general opinion.

This is something I am really proud of, but it was never the aim or goal with the band. We now meet bands on tour that are so happy to meet us, but they are playing so much slower than we ever have. Which is really cool. They see us as role models, but we usually tell them that what we play compared to your music is not at all the same doom. We are more metal compared to those bands. All genres start somewhere and develop into other things with time and new bands picking up the torch.

Now we are almost a heavy metal band, but still in the doom genre. This is a thing and a fact that I am really proud of. You know we even get black metal bands coming up to us and tell us how much Candlemass has inspired their music.

I feel that the album is quite varied.

Mappe: It really is. You have mentioned “When Death Sighs”, but “Scandinavian Gods” was not even meant to be on the album. It was meant to be as a bonus track. But the label thought the song was so good they wanted to and did release it as a first single. The record company thought that song stood out like crazy. For us we were worried about how people would receive it, but it was really well received. I did not think it would to be honest.

 

With this I do thank you, Mappe for your enthusiasm, dedication, and openness during our chat.

Good luck on the road and with future endeavors with Candelmass and everything else in life!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To Doom Or not To Doom? No, let us talk in Solitude instead.

December 22, 2022

The classics are the classics and are to be respected as such. When you feel the smell of those classics you become 10 years old again. There is a feeling in those classics that feel like your life, because in one way they have and are a part of your life.

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