May 21, 2018 Candlemass – House of Doom (EP Review)
The mighty Candlemass has returned with House of Doom, a four-song EP set for release Friday, May 25, 2018 through Napalm Records. Advertised as simply the long title track plus three “bonus” cuts, House of Doom is designed to keep fans satiated as the band finishes its follow-up to 2012’s Psalms for the Dead.
From the very start in 1984, the microphone has been a source of rotation – previous heavies such as Robert Lowe and the famed Messiah Marcolin came and went – but we are now deep into a second stint for Levén. Though, this EP will be only his second recording with the band, after the Death Thy Lover EP in 2016. The rest of the lineup remains the same as it has for decades: longtime Bassist and de facto Leader Leif Edling as well Mats Björkman and the towering Lars Johansson on guitar, and Jan Lindh on drums.
As promised, the opening and title-track is an EP in and of itself. Church bells, epic guitar solos, marching drums, all combine to remind the listener of the diverse work that has come from this outfit before, and the history that continues to be made. Levén possesses a unique vocal style that could seem out of place in a band with an otherwise dark, dreary sound, but here in Candlemass, the notes from a set of near ’80s Glam pipes fit perfectly with the riffs laid out by Björkman and Johansson. Furthermore, Levén fits within the rich vocal history of the band while still forging his own destiny.
The descent into hell continues with “Flowers of Deception,” a bristling track of that continues the successful pairing of Levén with the riff magic from Björkman and Johansson. This is also thanks to some artful bass progressions from Edling seeding the ground for more epic riffs halfway through. No doubt the work demonstrated on these first two songs will continue into the band’s next full-length, which is expected later this year. That said, the vocals and guitar work together masterfully, giving Levén the chance to fill almost an entire live set with songs he has recorded as a full official member.
Moving forward, acoustic ballad “Fortuneteller” appears as a change of pace. It is here Levén is given a chance to demonstrate the depths of his vocal range, and allowing acoustic guitar to lay crushing moods with the subtlest of chords. Finally, creepy instrumental closer “Dolls on a Wall” plods its way along to bring things to a slow, crippling close, covering the end of the EP with a thick layer of sludge.
The riffs and pacing this band still manages to conjure, despite being thirty-five years into a prolific career, and surrounded by generations of descendants, is impressive in its own. The downtrodden sounds of Candlemass are always looking forward, and this diverse work with Levén bodes well for the next full-length and beyond. That is why CrypticRock gives House of Doom 4 out of 5 stars.