Monday 6 April 2020

Candlemass - The Pendulum (2020)

Country: Sweden
Style: Epic Doom Metal
Rating: 6/10
Release Date: 27 Mar 2020
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"The pendulum's for fools!" sings Johan Längqvist on the title track, but I would beg to differ. This is very much for the discerning epic doom fan and its full songs seem more immediate than the full album this line-up put out last year, even though the majority of its tracks are unreleased demos from The Door to Doom. We don't know when we'll see the next full album, so this will bridge the gap for us. It gives the fans something extra and some of it might even capture a new listener or three.

There are six tracks on offer, of which only three are real songs, with the others being sub-two minute instrumentals, clearly musical ideas that didn't end up getting used on the album. They're varying degrees of rough, Sub Zero standing up well, as a neat melodic passage from a song that never happened, but Aftershock being nothing more than an unpolished Leif Edling bass track that never found a home. The Cold Room adds synth atmosphere and works quite well as an outro.

Of the full tracks, The Pendulum is clearly the best. It's fantastic stuff, a chugging doom monster that wouldn't just have been at home along the songs picked for The Door to Doom but a real highlight among them. A nice delicate intro sets us up but then a devastating riff kicks in and we're in motion at pace, at least for doom. It's one of those tracks that just can't be played loud enough and they're putting me at risk of blowing out these speakers.

Snakes of Goliath is more of a grower. The first half is solid, if missing a little something, but the second half perks up and it crawls home achingly slowly, bookended nicely. New (and still original) vocalist Johan Längqvist is really carving out his own territory halfway between Messiah Marcolin and Ronnie James Dio and that shows all the more in the slower sections.

Similarly, Porcelain Skull seemed initially to be the weakest of the three tracks proper, albeit with a crushingly heavy riff to keep us happy, but it found its groove eventually too. Maybe this and Snakes of Goliath would have been a little more polished on the album proper. They're good songs anyway.

Frankly, this is worth picking up for The Pendulum alone, but the rest will mostly be of interest to those confirmed fans who dug what Candlemass did a year ago with The Door to Doom.

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