Candlemass Candlemass

The post-Ozzy Osbourne Black Sabbath of the mid-’80s gave rise to a resurgence of doom in the United States, and the modern dirges of Saint Vitus and Trouble were spawned. In Sweden, however, Eddie "Messiah” Marcolin, a portly gent in a monk’s habit, began wowing growing audiences as front-man for Candlemass. This self-titled album marks the return of the classic 1987-’90 line-up starring Marcolin and Abstrakt Algebra guitarist Leif Edling; the band raises the comeback bar for all to follow. Marcolin’s power metal wail still sounds like Iron Maiden’s Bruce Dickinson, so naturally much of the record is Maiden-esque, especially the gritty opener "Black Dwarf” and "Born in a Tank.” "Seven Silver Keys” quickly settles into the group’s modern doom stylings mixed with a shot of slower Judas Priest, while "Assassin of the Light” shows how closely Solitude Aeturnus were influenced. After a stormy opening of blast-beats and death metal chordage, "Copernicus” fades into a serenely terse passage that parallels Black Sabbath’s debut album before barrelling into some intense My Dying Bride-like interludes. The instrumental "The Man Who Fell from the Sky” seems slightly out of place without vocals, but "Witches” realigns the album’s continuity with thrashy parts and bountiful doom riffs. "Spellbreaker” revisits the signature Maiden gallop with Edling’s soaring solos, and the plodding "The Day and the Night” compiles all of Candlemass’ best known qualities for a truly neck-snapping finale. The bonus track "Mars and Volcanos [sic]” certainly doesn’t sound like an added extra, though its up-tempo metal would be better served in the middle of the album. With a solid album under their bullet belts, will a full-fledged tour follow, replete with Marcolin in typical monastery-wear? Only time will tell. (Nuclear Blast)