As we are getting quite used to bands declaring that ”this is the end” even if it seldom turns out to be a definite end, the fact that Candlemass returns with a new record, seven years after the, supposed to be, Swansong, the great “Psalms For the Dead” is a mild surprise. I’m sure that band leader, songwriter and bassist Leif Edling was sincere and honest when he declared the death to Candlemass as a recording band, but with the release of the EP “Death thy Lover” (with the excuse that it was mere an EP, not a full length-album), followed by last years “House of Doom”, I think that we all got our hopes up and just begun to wait on that return to the full length-format!
The big surprise came when Candlemass released the bomb that original singer, Johan Längquist, would join forces again, and even if I find Mats Levén to be a great singer, the return of Johan really made my expectations hit full tilt!
“The Door to Doom” starts of promising with cool screaming feedback and a heavy intro but then turns out to be the typical fast opener that we are getting used to hear on the more recent Candlemass-albums. Even if the guitar riff in the verses sound a bit to familiar it’s a quite catchy tune with the choruses in the bridge being the high point of the song.
“Under the Ocean” follows next, and by then I start to suspect that maybe all songs on “The Door to Doom” initially wasn’t written with a new Candlemass-album in mind. The beautiful intro sounds extremely much like “Avatarium” and I would love to hear Jennie-Ann Smith´s fantastic voice on it even if Johan makes a great job behind the microphone, not the least in the mighty bridge!
The expectancy is at top when the heavy, sluggish intro riff of “Astorolus – The Great Octopus” gets rolling, as this is the song where the mighty Tony Iommi is making an appearance with a guitar solo. Although the solo, in all honesty, isn’t that exciting (nor is it, by any means, bad) and the verses a bit to laid back, this is a great song with the heavy intro, a good refrain and the neat tempo change after the solo making it one of my favourites on the album!
The album takes an unexpected turn when it turns out that the next song, “Bridge of the Blind”, is a ballad! This must have been written with Avatarium and Jennie-Ann in mind and although Johan makes a convincing contribution to the song, and “Bridge of the Blind” actually is quite good, I’m not sure, call me conservative, that I’m comfortable with the fact that there is a straight-out ballad on a Candlemass-album.
The up-tempo riff, reminding me a bit of the never material with Grand Magus that initiates “Death´s Wheel” gives the delicate moment, set up in the previous song, a well needed boost and although the refrain seems a bit out of place, this, a bit trivial tune, isn’t that bad at all!
“Black Trinity” follows with a single guitar playing a really evil riff and then turning in to one of those heavy groovy songs that later Candlemass master so well! Nice hooks and melodies, spiced with some necessary heaviness too keep us doomsters happy! But what’s the deal with that “dance”-part on the drums before the solo? To me, that part of the tune really drags an otherwise good song down and, in my opinion, the inclusion of that strange stuff was a really bad decision.
Luckily, the mistake with the swinging disco is soon to be repaired with heavy rain and church bells in the title track, “The Door to Doom” and even if Candlemass may repeat themselves with this homage to Black Sabbath you find yourself siting there with a big smile on your face! No doom metal-record worthy it’s name should go without church bells! “The Door to Doom” is also a pretty typical song of Candlemass of today with its up-tempo verses, heavy refrains and the, slightly off but nice, melodic interlude and in my opinion, not only because it contains church bells, this is the highlight of the album!
Last out is “The Omega Circle” that opens with a calm part that I really don’t like. The verse riff is a very heavy, ninetieths sounding one that easily could have been on “Dactylis Glomerata” and although Johan sings really good in most parts of the song, and the refrain, even if it’s a bit “poppy”, is catchy as hell, this, most on behalf of that calm part, is a bit dull ending to the album.
So what is the verdict of all this? I sure had my expectations set high on this one but in all honestly, even if I find “The Door to Doom” to be a good album I must admit that I’m a bit disappointed. The songs are good for most of the time, even if they lack a bit of that metal edge early Candlemass possessed and Johan does a great job singing tunes that obviously wasn’t written with his voice in mind, sadly leaving a little bit to wish for.
I really hope that this album will grove on me, and although not entirely convinced I can’t wait for the next one!
Title: The Door to Doom
Label: Napalm Records
Date of release: 22/2-19
Playing time: 48:48
Stand out track: The Door to Doom