Album Review: CANDLEMASS The Door to Doom
The reiteration of cherished classics isn't always a effort well-executed or well-received. I feared that The Door to Doom, the newest album from legendary metal heavyweights Candlemass, would rely upon status and namesake to carry the enthusiasm of their 12th studio offering. With the unbelievable return of vocalist Johan Längquist, I cynically suspected that the move to bring back Längquist was going to be more fan service than good idea. As if the return of the Epicus Doomicus Metallicus singer wasn't enough of a dangling carrot, a guest spot of absolute metal icon Tony Iommi had me feeling that The Door to Doom could be a hype train to 'meh'svills.
With names so beloved and so revered, how could the anticipation of the album possibly match the product's delivery? Boy, was I wrong. The Door to Doom, Candlemass's 12th studio album, is a stone-cold 10/10.
The album is supremely gratifying from a variety of perspectives. First, The Door to Doom feels timeless and satisfying. The ballad "Bridge of the Blind" is sung with straight-forward lyricism and a seasoned, not worn-out, warble that offers winsome wisdom. Each track is captivating and allures with a gripping presence that only experience can provide. Thanks to The Door to Doom, my fears of Candlemass fading into has-beens, grasping on to their heyday, have been obliterated. Shame on me, good on them. Though, to be fair, my cynicism was admittedly ill-founded. Their 2018 EP House of Doom was excellent—it was one of Metal Injection's best albums at the midway point last year. But with only 4 songs to go on, and with the addition of such huge names for a full-length, it could have been possible the hype would oversell the final product.
Secondly, The Door to Doom shaves back the modern standard of doom experimentation to a classic, simple heaviness. Mid-tempo, chuggy songs like "Death's Wheel" are old-school evil, brimming with slowly-crafted dark intent, and worthy of serious headbanging. The Door to Doom is a home run for Candlemass fans and doom fans alike. Candlemass fans will, of course, appreciate the return of Längquist, but will also love the marching, massive, minor-key songwriting of bassist Leif Edling.
It was surprising to find a new version of their song "House of Doom" as a track on The Door to Doom. The song was originally released on Candlemass's last EP and it featured singer Mats Levén. Längquist's version, The Door to Doom version, is by far the best. His voice is deeper and carries the atmosphere of the song better. Songs like "Black Trinity" and "The Omega Circle" are direct and frill-free, OG doomy goodness.
The Door to Doom feels important. Live tracked drums and bright, full basslines structure album stand-out "Astorolus – The Great Octopus." Featuring a non-tortured vocal performance—and Iommi's sickeningly appropriate guitar chops—the track with the most bizarre name on the album owns some of the most memorable moments and heaviest riffs.
Eight carefully-crafted tracks easily earn a 10/10. With great attention to detail, The Door to Doom manages to escape trying too hard on every front it could have readily been over-done. The lyrics are "dreadful" without being too heavy-handed. The vocal performance holds back on vibrato variance and grit when it could've understandably been drawn out. The variety of intro riffs aren't too varied for the sake of being 'different', and backbone song riffs aren't too catchy or lazily arranged. Balanced, classic, heavy doom arises again with one of it's very originators, Candlemass, in The Door to Doom.