Released: 2016, Napalm Death
Reviewer: Aaron Yurkiewicz
Weren’t these guys supposedly retiring?
Despite announcing that 2012’s PSALMS FOR THE DEAD was going to be the last Candlemass studio release, the band has been more active lately than they have been in ages. Between loads of touring, a massive box set announcement and a just released new EP, it would seem that Leif Edling and crew are not going quietly into that goodnight.
DEATH THY LOVER is a collection of four new Candlemass tracks intended to celebrate the band’s 30th anniversary. It’s also the first studio release to feature live vocalist Mats Levén, but more on that in a moment. The new tunes ring faithful to the band’s post-“White Album” material; a little more modern, a little more edgy, but still Candlemass. The title track in particular recalls the structure of “Mirror Mirror” with the urgency of “Lucifer Rising”, easily the best track of the bunch. “Sleeping Giant” and “Sinister N Sweet” are more mid-tempo doom crushers, but are almost mini-epics in the way they skulk through your speakers. At almost 7-minutes, the instrumental “The Goose” is an interesting choice for inclusion on an EP release. Maybe Edling finally ran out of lyrics, maybe its stark presentation was the intention all along, either way, it’s a bit of an anticlimactic ending from such a promising start.
Back to Mats Levén – given his association with both Krux and Abstrakt Algebra, his being tapped to front Candlemass came as no surprise. Having seen him belt out Messiah-era tunes during the band’s MDF performance, there’s no question around his vocal ability. But he plays it safe on DEATH THY LOVER; you’re waiting for a wail that never comes. Don’t get me wrong, he sounds great, but he’s capable of more. I did find that the vocal patterns and delivery would’ve fit Robert Lowe’s voice perfectly, which if the tunes have been sitting around for a while, may be why they’re delivered in such a fashion. Who knows, that’s a conversation for a fanboy podcast somewhere.
In any event, I’m just happy to still have Candlemass in 2016. If this is what retirement sounds like, I can’t wait to get my AARP card in the mail. Cheers to another 30 years of doom dancing, pick up DEATH THY LOVER when it releases in June.