Vera : In less than one hour, Candlemass brought us back to the essence of (doom) metal and damned, this feels like homecoming! The Swedish epic doom institution always released strong albums, but The Door To Doom is really cast from a special mould, so that several passages give me goose-bumps. Since I did not expect something epoch-making, it is all the better. With the release of Psalms For The Dead in 2012 came the announcement that it would be the last studio album of Candlemass. From then on they would only do gigs with the material they had. So they did, they became a live only band, but Rob Lowe was replaced by singer Mats LÃ©ven. In this constellation they also made two EPs when Candlemass broke the oath and recorded new material for Death Thy Lover (2016) and House Of Doom (2018). Soon we heard that a full length new album was in the making and that is The Door To Doom, the one we have been listening to now. Another surprise when Johan Langquist, once vocalist on their debut album Epicus Doomicus Metallicus, had returned behind the microphone. So far the turbulent history of the band, but let us see what band leader/bassist Leif Edling has in store for us.
Pure magic in epic doom! It is instantly ace when Splendor Demon Majesty starts heavily with impressive doom riffs and the smooth, momentous vocals of Langquist appear to be amazing. After all these years, there is no glimpse of wear and tear in his voice. He puts down a prestigious performance on this album, with the empyrean charms of Dio or Tony Martin. The fervent guitar solos of Lars Lasse Johansson sound vintage and heartfelt; the epic chants are regaled with any backing vocals here. The vibe is nothing else but right. The fluttering guitar sounds and sensitive vocals at the beginning of Under The Ocean convince us all the way, although the song soon gains in energy with ponderous riffs and more powerful vocal lines. Delicious! Relaxed drums open Astorolus The Great Octopus, chunky riffs are combined with solemn vocals, but most remarkable is the contribution of Tony Iommi! The grandmaster of Black Sabbath plays a howling solo with all his heart. The album gets even better when also a quiescent song comes along. Bridge Of The Blind is pure beauty! As ballad it has the pure depth of old school hard rock. Think of fragile masterpieces like When A Blind Man Cries of Deep Purple or Beyond The Realms Of Death from Judas Priest. In the up-tempo rocking Deaths Wheel one can find a nice conjunction of gritty distorted riffs and pure, sober soloing on guitar. A slower fragment with organ addition brings in a soaring touch. Black Trinity is more straight forward, with murky riffs, dramatic chants and also a weird psychedelic intermezzo. We already knew House Of Doom from the EP, but it works well between the rest with its church bells, thunder and rain and catchy approach with fetching chorus. Organ adds a sacral, yet dark flavor. Again goose-bumps during the magnificent sensitive vocals with acoustic guitar at the beginning of The Omega Circle. Heavy riffs join in, once again guitar solos are brilliant and when the calm vocal lines return, Candlemass reaches out its hand to Avatarium, so it seems, because this song reminds me of a track from Avatarium (composer Edling again). The catchy chorus is here a strong feature, as well as the solo. When silence returns, we are left in awe. What a stunner!