Candlemass are doom overlords. Sweet Evil Sun comes close to four decades after their legendary 1986 debut, Epicus Doomicus Metallicus.
Released: 18th November 2022
Label: Napalm Records
Formats: Vinyl Box Set / Vinyl / CD / Digital
New albums from legendary bands always feel like an event, more than a release. Candlemass’ new record, Sweet Evil Sun, falls firmly into the event category.
4/5ths of the band have been constant since their reformation in 2004. Band founder and ever present bassist Leif Edling and rhythm guitarist Mappe Björkman (save for a few years) have been in the band since 1984 when they originally formed.
Like a fine wine, Candlemass are maturing wonderfully with age. Their riffs are still gargantuan, the epic scope is wider than ever, the vocals of Johan Lanquist are haunting and the drums of Janne Lind help make the mood pop.
Sweet Evil Sun wastes no time in getting down to business on Wizard Of The Vortex. Lanquist uses his wonderful vocal range and lead guitarist Lars Johansson plays his frosty solo lines with aplomb. This continues throughout the album; the musicianship is second to none. Whilst the epic doom pace is central to the bands vibe, there are plenty of time changes to mix things up in the first track. As the track ends, there is a stirring, stripped back vocal and harmony that comes out of the blue. It is an exciting opening that sets the scene perfectly.
A swirl of feedback greets us as the title track kicks in with a more urgent pace. This is a classic neck wrecker of a track. Envisage the heads of the masses banging in unison. Wrap this up in a swirling organ sound and you have a dastardly delicious mix.
Angel Battle rolls out the towering riffs in its doomier than thou intro. Tempo changes swish along with that legendary Lanquist howl circling around. ‘Poetry in motion,’ he cries…we couldn’t agree more. The track ends with a spoken word part with chiming bells, rolling thunder and squawking ravens.
Black Butterfly is a huge highlight of the album. Guitars fire off in all directions so when the middle part of the song is playing out, the guitar sounds feel like the aforementioned butterflies swooping for you. The ability this band have to create images with their music is quite superb.
Synth bedding helps When Death Sighs in its sinister opening. In addition to this, there is a female voice that adds a layer of harmonic difference to proceedings therefore keeping everything fresh. Scandinavian Gods continues the sinisterism with Edling driving proceedings with his thudding bass rolling around in the doldrums.
Devil Voodoo is the longest track on the album. An acoustic intro with subtle synth gives way to a cutting riff that will knock your socks off. It is all bluster in the early strains of the song. The motif that opened the song appears again in the centre of the song before a blistering guitar solo atop a bone crushing guitar line that could plunder the depths of Hell itself.
Again, the guitars are cutting as Crucified opens. Higher tempos are on the cards again as the ferocious rhythm section of the band chug alongside the guitars. Lanquist sounds fierce which adds a harder element to the song. This is a track that could feature heavily when the band take these songs out on the road. Goddess follows in classic Candlemass fashion before A Cup Of Coffin closes out the album; this is an instrumental that feels like a song for the credits. Whoops of applause and cheering fade the album to black.
Candlemass have delivered once again on their new album. The songs are full of brilliant textures and darkly painted canvases. As for production, it is second to none. Everything sounds astutely huge and will pound your sound system without thinking of the consequences. Sweet Evil Sun shows just why Candlemass are one of the greatest doom metal bands ever.