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Candlemass - "Psalms For The Dead" (CD)

Candlemass - "Psalms For The Dead" CD cover image

"Psalms For The Dead" track listing:

1. Prophet (6:05 )
2. The Sound Of Dying Demons (5:30)
3. Dancing In The Temple (Of The Mad Queen Bee) (3:38)
4. Waterwitch (7:03)
5. The Lights Of Thebe (5:49)
6. Psalms For The Dead (5:15)
7. The Killing Of The Sun (4:09)
8. Siren Song (5:57)
9. Black As Time (6:47)

Reviewed by on May 11, 2012

"In what is touted as the band’s swan song, Leif Edling casts a spell of irony in composing an album that may do more justice to a Black Sabbath reunion than what is expected from Birmingham this fall."

When you suddenly feel the urge to turn the lights off, light the aged wicks of wax, and turn the speakers to 11…..it is most certainly time for the new Candlemass album to surface. In what is touted as the band’s swan song, Leif Edling casts a spell of irony in composing an album that may do more justice to a Black Sabbath reunion than what is expected from Birmingham this fall. While “Psalms of the Dead” may not rip “Epicus Doomicus Metallicus” or “Nightfall” from the dead cold hands of cult followers, the release is a sonic masterpiece befitting its legacy as the defining band of epic doom metal. If you think you have heard it all before, then listen again.

Much like previous Robert Lowe era releases, “King of the Grey Islands” and “Death Magic Doom,” there are so many elements drawn from the past that combine with modern production to create riffs so somber and sweet it would make Tony Iommi weep. The album wastes no time spewing the molten slabs of doom, as “Prophet” commences with no building intros or foreboding spoken word and engages the listener with obsidian strums from Master Edling and the silky smooth incantations of Mr. Lowe. The addition of macabre organ keys throughout adds a level calamity to the somber laden crunch of songs like “The Sound of Dying Demons” and “Siren Song.”

It is nearly impossible to pick a favorite track, but “Waterwitch” and “The Lights of Thebe” (hereinafter referred to as “Thebe”) are undoubtedly the best on the album and perhaps in the business. The opening part of “Thebe” has the distinct feel of “Dark Are the Veils of Death.” The heights of climax and pure doom euphoria are the deadly plucks at precisely 4:02 of “Thebe” and 2:19 of the album’s title, track which will have fans of the genre bewailing in exaltation. There is a sheer magnitude of memorability on “Dancing in the Temple (of the Mad Queen Bee)” and “The Killing of the Sun” that can only be described as the modern day embodiment of “Fairies Wear Boots.”

If you believe the reports that Candlemass is finally through with studio releases, then the album’s finale “Time As Black” opens with an appropriately intense spoken intro which deserves full repeating as "time is the master of doom": “Time is short. Time is endless. Time is linier, but also a relative factor that moves rather unnoticed from point A to B. Time is a force not to be taken lightly, because time never forgets. Time heals nothing. Time is a black hole that consumes energy, ambition and love. Time is dangerous. Time, quite frankly, doesn’t give a shit. And above all, time is black. It is your enemy. Time is decline and decay. Time is death. It follows you everywhere you go until it inexorably leaves you behind. Time counts your every step, every year, month, week and minute….tick, tock, tick, tock. And when the reaper breathes you in the neck, it is there stealing the very limited precious shares of time that are left. Slowly and almost unnoticed, second by second…tick, tock, tick, tock, tick, tock…it continues the countdown closer to your grave, until it finally stops.”

When all is capitulated in the world of Leif Edling, Candlemass demands to be recognized for the legacy that was forged. It all may have started in the ‘70’s with originators Black Sabbath along with the spawns that took on its many forms: stoner with the likes Trouble, death with the likes of Asphyx, suffocating with likes of The 11th Hour, and gothic with the likes of Draconian, but Candlemass defined what we all know as modern epic doom metal. There will never be another.

Highs: Epic doom metal as only the masters could create.

Lows: This represents the final album from Candlemass.

Bottom line: Candlemass creates the greatest soundtrack of "pslams" for its own untimely funeral.

Rated 5 out of 5 skulls
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)