Wednesday, June 1, 2016

EP Review: Candlemass - Death Thy Lover

Before getting to a discussion of the four songs Candlemass is serving up in honor of their 30th anniversary, I have to comment on the fact that this EP is being released at all. A few years ago, when Candlemass released "Pslams For The Dead", it was promoted as their farewell album. They were going to continue playing festivals, because no band ever truly retires, but they were supposedly done as a studio entity. Maybe it's just me, but I don't like it when people go back on their word. If Candlemass didn't intend on retiring from the studio, they could have easily said they were taking a break, or were going to go through changes, or anything. But when they promote a record as the end, I expect it to be the end. Otherwise, I feel like I was lied to. It happened with the Scorpions, and it's happening here. I don't much appreciate it.

But I can put my feelings aside, and judge the music on its own.

The title track leads things off, and is one of the most melodic songs they've ever written. 'New' singer Mats Levens sounds good, and has the proper morose delivery for the material. The big appeal to the song is the chorus, which brings to mind a song like "The Bleeding Baroness". I don't know if the song needs to have a slow, ballad section thrown into the middle, but the rest of the track is solid late-era Candlemass, and is much better than anything off the last album, which was a disappointing way of capping a career.

In "Sleeping Giant", Levens gets even closer to sounding like previous singer Robert Lowe, which I have to say does add in making this not feel like a new era of the band at all. This song fits the mold of all the 'creepy' Candlemass songs, where the main hook of the song mirrors the sinister, minor key guitar riff. It's my least favorite way of writing a song, because it always feels too easy to have the singer follow the riff. If that's all he's doing, why even have a singer?

After that, we get another track that puts the heavy focus on the riffs, and then an instrumental track. That is a confusing choice to make, since every release now could be the last, and going out on a boring instrumental track would be a terrible way to end a career.

I'm assuming there was a reason why Candlemass decided to call it quite when they said they were going to, and despite the title track being a heck of an effort, the rest of this EP doesn't do much of anything to dispel the notion that they were right the first time. This is completely inessential, and mostly just gives them one more good song to fill up the set list on their continued concert presence.

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