Candlemass King of the Grey Islands

Candlemass King of the Grey Islands
Candlemass’s eponymous 2005 effort marked the homecoming of these Swedish doom pioneers and sadly, long-time front-man Messiah Marcolin has jumped ship before the highly anticipated follow-up. Enter Solitude Aeturnus vocalist Robert Lowe, whose gilded throat graces the admirable King of the Grey Islands. After an acoustic intro, the hard-hitting "Emperor of the Void” pits Lowe against the best howlers from Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and Death Angel, while "Demonia 6” and "Destroyer” are more epic in scope, paralleling Iced Earth. "Of Stars and Smoke” could be new Solitude Aeturnus with a hard rocking solo, and guitarist Lars "Lasse” Johansson absolutely wails on the intricate soloing in "Man of Shadows.” "Clearsight” is more upbeat like Cathedral, sporting a brilliant mid-song breather with distantly crashing waves like the outro to Rush’s "Natural Science.” "Embracing the Styx” fades out acoustically to polish off the album, leaving the listener yearning for more substantial fare. King of the Grey Islands proves itself worthy enough for Candlemass fans, though Lowe followers will revert to Solitude Aeturnus for ultimate solace. (Nuclear Blast)