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Leif Edling - "Songs Of Torment, Songs Of Joy" (CD)

Leif Edling - "Songs Of Torment, Songs Of Joy" CD cover image

"Songs Of Torment, Songs Of Joy" track listing:

1. The Scar (5:55)
2. It Is Not There (4:26)
3. Angelic 'til I die (4:54)
4. On The Edge Of Time (6:17)
5. Butterfly (0:57)
6. My Black Birthday (5:39)
7. Space Killer (5:40)
8. Nautilus (9:33)

Reviewed by on May 7, 2009

"'Songs Of Torment, Songs Of Joy' is exactly what most would expect from Edling, yet it has enough innovation behind it to stand out from Candlemass."

As one of the original members of Swedish doom metal pioneers Candlemass, bassist Leif Edling has been the primary songwriter since the very beginning. So when it was announced that Edling would release a solo album, the comparisons to his other band were unavoidable. Edling seemed to know it, and instead of attempting awkward experimentation or messing with a winning formula, he sticks to what he writes best; slow, lumbering doom metal. “Songs Of Torment, Songs Of Joy” is exactly what most would expect from Edling, yet it has enough innovation behind it to stand out from Candlemass.

The one key difference between his solo project and his main band is the use of organ-sounding keys to generate a bleak and hopeless atmosphere. The keys stay mainly in the background, adding a nice touch that doesn’t dominate any of the songs. They do get their moment in the spotlight on the largely-instrumental, spacey closer “Nautilus.”

Edling not only plays the bass, but performs the guitar and vocal tracks. While Edling sang for a few years in Nemesis, the band he was in before Candlemass, this is the first time most have heard Edling sing in a great capacity. He doesn’t sing as much as he does a spoken word style a la Henry Rollins, especially on opener “The Scar.” It isn’t bad, but it takes a bit of getting used to. He also throws in some clean vocals, along with an occasional harsh vocal line here and there. No matter the vocal style, Edling does express the anguish feeling evoked from the lyrics with vigor.

The instrumental work is minimal in the grand scheme of “Songs Of Torment, Songs Of Joy.” Solos are non-existent and the drums stay on note, with some timely fills to keep things interesting. The most important aspect to the album is the foreboding mood, which is only heightened by the simplistic guitar work. The songs stay mid-paced, not every really picking up much steam. With the exception of the bass-led short interlude “Butterfly,” most of the songs range between five and six minutes.

The highlights include the sorrowful opener “The Scar,” the epic “On The Edge Of Time,” and the aptly-named “My Black Birthday.” There are no low-points on the album, but the nine-minute “Nautilus” could have been easily cut in half with no repercussions, especially the demonic spoken word passage tacked on at the end.

“Songs Of Sorrow, Songs Of Joy” could have been nothing more than rejected riffs and melodies from Candlemass retooled into sub-par doom metal tracks. Instead, Edling goes out of his way to try to make the album something unique from his other band. Nothing on the album pushes the limits of the genre, nor is there any real progression from Edling as a songwriter. However, the incorporation of the organ/keys makes for unique sonic dynamics that shows that even after two-plus decades, Edling still has a lot of grim ideas left in his head.

Highs: Organ sound adds bleak atmosphere, Edling does a solid job with the guitar, bass, and vocal work

Lows: Closer “Nautilus” is way too long, a faster-paced song would have been benefitial

Bottom line: Edling puts out a good solo album that will attract fans of Candlemass and organ-laced doom metal.

Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls
3.5 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)