Candlemass - Epicus Doomicus Metallicus (1986)
Let's review the best album of history song by song with it's main creator Leif Edling, Doomfather and his memories.
"If you should play one song for a person that never heard the band before, this is it" he says. Solitude by Candlemass has been the soundtracks for many people's lives and many other want it to be played at their funeral. It is such a great way to describe what is death and it means for us in artistic ways.
"Two people have told me that a person very close to them have taken the car out to the woods and shot his head off while listening to this track" Leif says. I always tended to emphasize the effectiveness of this track on me by dreaming of this desperate event and maybe I was encouraging myself or trying to get inspired from it, I am not sure.
And "the chorus is inspired by Venom's Buried Alive" Leif says.
2. Demon's Gate
"This is probably my favorite track on Epicus. I love long intro, the chords that I worked on for weeks and weeks" Leif says. Demon's Gate is a perfectly crafted track with just enough amount creepy build around the intro, melodic riffs, haunting atmosphere and terrifying lyrics.
"Mats (the drummer) is of course responsible for the level of the drums in the mix. We lowered them when he wasn't around or turned his back but still, some of the loudest drums I have ever heard on a record" Leif says. Yes, this intense drum play also marks Epicus with a unique, distinctive stigma that belongs to hell originally. Drums of hell and horror, that's how I describe them.
3. Crystal Ball
"So one day, I think it was just a couple of weeks or so beforethe recordings of Epicus and we hadn't found us a singer. It was totaly impossible. So Mats came to rehearsal room with this tape. Johan was singing" Leif says. In my opinion there is no better vocalist for Candlemass to fit their style. With his intense performance on Crystall Ball and the rest, Johan Langquist is the best singer by far. His style is so dynamic, he is able to adapt Candlemass's bleak style perfectly and he naturally sounds sentimental somehow. Originally he was a hard rock singer in his band called "Jonah Hex".
"I have a vague memory of reading The Lord of the Rings at the time and it could be about Lord Saruman and Palantirs" Leif says about Crystall Ball. I tend to deem this crystall ball as an artistic interpretation of earth which we see "visions and dreams" when we look at it.
"Gaze into the crystal, see what it tells
It can bring you all fortune, do you so well
Visions and dreams you can see in the Crystal ball"
4. Black Stone Wielder
"This song begins with a count-in in Swedish. When we toured with the guys in King Diamond they told me that they bought the album, thought it was absolutely amazing and we must be from America until they heard the Swedish count-in! They told me they almost fell backwards" Leif says.With this little intro, Black Stone Wielder is a magnificent fantasy oriented track. It is telling a tale from far and unknown lands that lurk in a luminous haze and mystery.
"Lyrically this is my version of the story of three wise men and what they were looking for. I worked on the lyrics and music a lot and almost drove my girlfriend crazy at the time. Lots of sleepless nights in my one small room apartment in Uppland Vasby." he says. Just like any other track on this record, Black Stone Wielder is a carefully composed one and thriven with passion. It's creators put a lot of efford and dedication into it. None of the passages from this album was a template that you can simply put together and make a song. There was no "know-how" back then and all of these are handcrafted materials that swarm with creativity.
5. Under the Oak
"A song that originally was named "in shadow of the cross". I worked on the verse quite a bit and eventually it became "Under the Oak" Leif says.
And for the people that have heard this track first time on Tales of Creation and think Marcolin did better, here what it's creator thinks. "I am okay with the re-recording of this song on Tales of Creation, but this version is so much better" he says. A raw and warm guitar tone is in the front line of this epic track it has become it's character.
6. A Sorcerer's Pledge
This is my favorite track from this album and it is my favorite album to this date too. So this makes A Sorcerer's Pledge my favorite song of all times and the riff that begins at 02:46 is the best riff ever written to me.
"Johan had been listening to the songs only for a week or so and wasn't sure about how to sing it. With that in mind his performance on Epicus is even more admirable" Leif says.
Knowing that the vocal performance on this album is not planned at all makes this record an anomalie or a miracle in my eye. Whether it was mere luck or distinctive originality that made this album so good, and despite it's problems with preperation Epicus Doomic Metallicus still stand glorious among ruins, on vast plains and in derelict dungeons.
I always loved the keyboard arrangements around the intro and deemed it as a distinctive mark of epic doom metal style. It is a shame that modern epic doom metal bands that follow Candlemass don't rely enough on this type of usage of keyboards. [b9Keyboards are one on the core elemts that form it's epic shape and shouldn't be denied.[/b]
"This song is about a mad old sorcerer that thinks he can extend his life by drinking young virgins blood. To me he is like a cross between Dracule and the wizard Merlin" Leif says.
And last few notes from Leif on the album:
"Actually it was a miracle we managed to play in Thunderload Studios! It was bloody cold in the studio. We had to wear gloves in the recording room because the studio was placed below the subway at "Universitetet in Stockholm and we were there in the middle of the winter! Frost came out when we were breathing and the recording room was so damp! It was almost impossible to play guitar or bass or drums!" Leif says and maybe it was the cold that gave this bleak doomy feeling to this milestone.
My footprint in the Fallen clan is quite limited (there's good reason why I didn't pick it for my fourth clan during last year's challenge when the opportunity arose) and this is largely because I like the idea and concept of doom metal often more than I actually like the content overall. Albums like Epicus... and Nightfall make me want to listen to more doom metal. The constant sense of drama and pending tragedy appeals to my dark nature and I love the huge sound to the riffs and their looming menace. The fact is though that for me the genre doesn't always live up to the expectations that the Candlemass debut promised when I first heard it. Arguably, the first four Candlemass records broke the whole genre for me as I soon realised that there was very few vocalists out there that could live up to the talent and range of Längquist and Marcolin, or even match pound for pound the riffing of Björkman and harrowing leads of Johansson.
So, I confine myself to the odd review within the clan and tonight I find myself reviewing one the greatest doom metal records of all time. I think this rating comes from all of what I have mentioned above in relation to this record. The great vocals, the sterling instrumentation and that constant feel of dense sorrow hanging over proceedings make the whole experience so very memorable. Indeed it is a record you would struggle not to take some lasting memory away from after just one listen I would say.
The album not only perfects the doom sound it lives and breathes the very core of doom in all that it presents. Whether it is the haunting resonance of Längquist begging "Please let me die in solitude" on the opening track or just the staggering imagery the lyric sheet overall can conjure when you read it, it is obvious that doom was woven into the very fabric of this record from the off. It doesn't actually feel like an album either. It has a length in terms of a track listing that make it look like an EP and even at 43 minutes it is not a doom album that relies on repetition and fathomless song durations to get its point across. Despite the heaviness and the quality on show the album doesn't fuck around or risk outstaying its welcome. It feels almost concise to me yet still leaves me hungry for more which is what all good records should do.
When they came onto the scene with this, their debut release, Candlemass were mercilessly derided by the mainstream music press (and even by a significant portion of the metal press), at least by those who chose not to ignore them entirely, yet this album still stands the test of time and is one of the seminal doom records, along with Sabbath and early releases from the likes of Saint Vitus, Pentagram and Witchfinder General. This is the album, however that gave doom it's epicness, with huge-sounding classics like Solitude, Crystal Ball and Under the Oak rendered even more awesome by Johan Lanquist's brilliantly OTT vocals. Candlemass were also hugely influential in making Scandinavia a real stalwart of the doom scene.
If you can get the remastered 2CD set, the second live disc, recorded with Messiah on vocals in 1988 in the birthplace of Doom (Birmingham, UK), would be a worthwhile release in it's own right and makes this an unmissable album for any doom fan.
Nothing before it had come close to the epic doom that is Candlemass! Trouble, Witchfinder General, St Vitus and Pentagram had all dabbled in the magic that Black Sabbath had created more than a decade earlier, but it was Candlemass that absolutely nailed it with their debut Epicus Doomicus Metallicus.
A fantastic production showcases the pounding slow drums, the monstrous riffs and Johan Langquist's incredible vocals. Favourite tracks for me are the incredible Solitude, Demon's Gate and well...all of it! Being a massive fan of death / doom bands such as My Dying Bride and Saturnus as well as funeral doom such as Esoteric and Shape of Despair, it took me a long time to catch on to the more traditional form of doom metal, but I'm seriously happy I did. Doom on!!!
Epicus Doomicus Metallicus. The name carries immense weight, even before hearing what lies therein. Often given the title of the greatest Doom Metal album of all time, bandleader Leif Edling carries the band with immense riff-writing prowess, and Johan Längqvist wields a powerful, epic operatic bellow. Here, he sets the now solidified trope of epic vocals in Trad Doom. His voice was very unique at the time, being capable hitting highs and lows and everything in between, but always remaining melodic and full of vibrato. The riffs here are reminiscent of early Sabbath, but heavier, groovier, and better.
Epicus Doomicus Metallicus has no shortage of quality riffs and vocals, and in fact, there is absolutely no filler to be found. Something Candlemass hadn’t expanded on for Doom, however, was the mood and atmosphere. The songs here remain rather generic worshippings of demons, god, and death in general, and apart from some nice acoustic sections, there is no variation in style or sound. Candlemass are no doubt gods at what they do, which is play straightforward Trad Doom. Unfortunately, to call this the greatest Doom Metal album of all time when the genre has expanded into something so much more than straightforward slow metal is rather unfounded.