Candlemass – The King of the Grey Islands (Nuclear Blast 2007)

Candlemass was for a long time a band I knew existed, I knew their logo and that they had made a rather big impact on the doom scene in the eighties, but I had never truly listened to them. About 2007  I was quite heavily into “Alone” by Solitude Aeturnus, when I read somewhere that their singer, Robert Lowe, was doing the new Candlemass record. I checked it out and it wasn’t too bad, not too bad at all.

The thing I dug about Solitude Aeturnus was the combination of Roberts voice and the slow dark doomy stuff that, when it works, it blends together in this true horror movie kind of way. The pain, the despair and the loneliness that his vocals could portray was pure magic to me.

Candlemass taught me quite a lot about doom metal with this album. Doom doesn’t always mean slow, heaviness can also come from classically inspired melodies and bass driven songs doesn’t necessarily forget about the guitars. But most importantly fragile vocals can still bring forth heavy, heavy music.

“Emperor of the Void” has wav- structured riff that keeps hitting you then lets you go for a brief moment just to hit you again. I love it. “Devil Seed” has a sing-along quality and has this proper doom feeling.

“Of Stars and Smoke” is nothing short of a masterpiece and Rob shines on this. The riffs, melodies and rhythm section just melts together in a perfect way.

“Demonia 6” is just an example of how Black Sabbath inspired doomy gloomy metal should sound, man what a good song this is. “Clearsight” is another example of the same. I was reading The Song of Ice and Fire at the time I got into this album and I this song always reminded me of the Greyjoys and their Iron Isles, actually the whole album does remind of the Greyjoys, but this song more than the rest.

“Man of Shadows” is not a bad song, but it doesn’t stand out and sort of pales in comparison to the rest of the album. “Embracing the Styx” is also sort of a letdown, at first. When the chorus kicks in the long and rather disappointing intro is forgiven.

This album was my first taste of Candlemass doom, I have since bought and checked out most of the Candlemass catalogue and I still think this is their finest work. Only their debut comes close to rival this album in my opinion.

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