Label: Napalm Records
I’ve spent so much precious time listening, again and again, to “The Door To Doom”. Any hints that the band gave away prior to it being formally released putted me on a pedestal, still I waited so I could hear the album in its entirety and then come up with the –pretty obvious, to tell you the truth- final verdict.
I get that Leif wants to keep the brainchild alive. I see it as a conscious, almost fatherlike move towards Candlemass as well as himself. Because this man knows well that without music he cannot be or he won’t survive. And then, there are many health problems that tired him over the last years. Others would give up instead if they were him, weeping under their blankets. Instead Leif wakes up and creates. This fact alone is more than enough for him to earn -yet another time- my respect.
Let’s get back to basics though. Recap lesson 66.6: Candlemass as of 1998 and after progressively follow a specific pattern regarding orchestration that although felt kind of numb in the beginning -Dactylis Glomerata / From the 13th Sun- still gradually evolves –Candlemass-, till it reaches “King Of The Grey Islands”, which is the album that brings forth the sharp peak of this particular pattern of inspiration. From there we go to an almost stale situation –Death Magic Doom / Psalms For The Dead-, and, finally, to today’s “The Door To Doom”
So, which are in fact the characteristics that form this particular pattern in composition? Gloomy riffing, strong references to traditional Doom formulas and emphasis on the rhythmic part. And while all this starts with a strong 70’s Sabbath vibe -Dactylis… / 13th…-, it evolves to something more majestic –Candlemass / King…- and, finally, stays there. It tries to thread its way through, adding some vintage elements -Death Magic… / Psalms…- but this maneuver isn’t enough it seems.
That being said and despite the fact that news of Johan’s Längquist arrival struck a chord with me, I didn’t expect to hear changes regarding the band’s sound. In fact, by doing so after listening to the first samples, I was almost convinced that a big part of the vocal melodies were written for Mats Levén (forefather of Johan, who was tried out in the aforementioned patterns after providing vocals on “Abstract Algebra”, Leif’s album).
Now, “The Door To Doom” follows the foresaid steps I think of it as the best thing that the band has offered us after “King…”. And of course I’m not fooling myself thinking about a possible return to 1986 or 1988-89 or even 1992. This golden era of Candlemass is left behind and forgotten by them since 2 decades ago.
We’ll hear plenty of gigantic, noble riffs, we’ll hear shadowy, grandiose themes with vintage additions here and there that shape a macabre atmosphere. Johan Längquist will make good use of the given material, treading in safe vocal pathways without having the pompous expressiveness that we all expected, minus some exceptions. He sounds to me more narrative than lyrical.
There are, also, some interesting lead parts that seem to reside on the classical Candlemass universe. And, if you’re about to ask, no, I wasn’t so impressed by Iommy’s solo on ‘Astrolus – The Great Octopus’. It seems that this move had more commercial and less artistic value -judging by the end result-, that’s also the case with the red logo, the cover with its iconic skull that brings us back to different eras, as does the whole layout of the record. That’s all fine, as long as there are other things as well that keep Candlemass alive -also as a final product-.
I consider “Bridge Of The Blind” a wonderfully, imposing composition. I could imagine her letting off some steam but still -mysterious and calm as it is- still stands just fine. “The Omega Circle” is one of the best moments of the record, while “Splendor Demon Majesty” -which has the most epic main theme- and “Under The Ocean” stand out.
Finally, I consider this album to be the best line of work that the Swedes have shown us, compared to the more recent -after King…- stuff. An album that has this macabre, dark atmosphere that will keep you interested till the end. Just that.
Last but not least, an honest request that I know the band won’t read: Stop using the word “Doom” in almost every lyric or title. There are other words as well that can be used instead…