March 23, 2020 Candlemass – The Pendulum (EP review)
Candlemass, the Swedish masters of Doom Metal, are back to release The Pendulum, a brisk new EP of tracks, out on Friday, March 27th through Napalm Records.
As fans know, the well-documented rash of stoppages and lineup changes have occurred since the band first broke onto the scene with Epicus Doomicus Metallicus in 1986, but the current lineup is as close to a classic and original lineup as the band has seen in some time. Founding bass guitarist, and very early vocalist, Leif Edling is joined by original Guitarist Mats Mats “Mappe” Björkman, as well as two longtime members – Guitarist Lars “Lasse” Johansson and Drummer Jan Lindh. Additionally, Vocalist Johan Längquist, whom the band hired as a session musician for Epicus Doomicus Metallicus, marked his official return to the lineup on The Door to Doom last year and continues his reign here.
The six tracks herein were birthed during the sessions for their most recent full-length album, 2019’s The Door to Doom, and like that album, The Pendulum finds Candlemass straddling the line between their nascent debut and their strong recent work. Three full-length songs—”Snakes of Goliath,” “Porcelain Skull,” and the opening title-track – are mixed with three instrumental efforts- “Sub Zero,” “Aftershock,” and closer, “The Cold Room.” The title-track was recorded in full glory during the final sessions for The Door to Doom, narrowly missing inclusion on the final product, while the remaining tracks appear in their unpolished demo form.
Fully produced or not, the sound of Candlemass persists on every note of The Pendulum. The aforementioned title-track manages to match some of the speed and anxiety of its bretheren from The Door to Doom, while the two other full-length tracks are boiling pools of magma, slowly making their descent from a high volcano, picking up speed at times and slowing to a crawl at others. This is while “Snakes of Goliath” waits until its midway point before increasing the pace considerably. The pace eventually drifts to a whisper before the acoustic guitar of “Sub Zero” takes its place.
Then with “Porcelain Skull,” the band manages to mix the slow, podding verses with an upbeat chorus, eventually rising to a crippling crescendo that is decimated by the sky-scraping solos near the three-minute mark. The band also crafts “Aftershock” into a nod to well-known bass-driven doom narratives like “Bassically” by Black Sabbath, while the closing piano and strings of “The Cold Room” leave you with a cold, fusty feeling of permanent misery.
With The Pendulum, Candlemass prove that even its half-baked ideas and warm-up tracks can stand alongside the strongest efforts from modern-day Doom Metal. The band sticks to its patented sound without feeling restricted or stagnant, and the guitar work here is as as slow, crumbling, and dusty as one would expect from an act this well-versed in the genre, Doom Metal, it christened all those years ago.
As with The Door to Doom, Längquist fits in effortlessly and keeps the band honest, while also reaching new peaks of his own, and the resulting sound is an organic collection of old friends writing new material that could very well have sat alongside their legendary early work. That is why Cryptic Rock gives The Pendulum 4 out of 5 stars.