“Psalms For the Dead” is final album of the arguably most successful Doom band ever existed. Of course, with the marketing games the labels are playing these days, you can never be sure about the “last” part.
This review is written in the shadow of the big announcement that Robert Lowe has left the band and his place now takes Mats Leven. The truth is that the position of the frontman has always been an issue for the band. While Lowe has an excellent voice and is a great performer in studio, history proved that it wasn’t the best choice for CANDLEMASS. For what is worth I believe that Lowe gave a breath of fresh air to the band and allow me to believe that he had the most dramatic impact to the sound of CANDLEMASS.
“Psalms For the Dead” is quite similar as their last two albums. Same recipe, same song structures, just different riffs and melodies. Sounds good to me! I don’t know how many of you expected material that can match “Epicus, Doomicus, Metalicus” or “Nightfall” but unfortunately the final result may not be as sufficient as a dedicated fan of the band would hope for.
The album kicks off with “Prophet”. Unfortunately, after a bone-crashing intro the song turns into an uptempo Doom/Power Metal song, similar to those you can hear any given day from Nuclear Blast or a similar label. “Dancing in the Temple” is the catchiest song of the album yet completely empty of essence. Again after an interesting intro the song simply disappoints the die-hard fans of the band. “Waterwitch” drops the tempo a bit. The song is Doom alright. One of the Doomiest songs of the band yet it lacks the most important element of Doom which is emotion. The main riff although dark , it’s impossible to inspire any real emotion to the listener. That’s why somewhere in the middle it sounds boring. “Siren Song” is based on a slow, monolithic melody but something doesn’t sound quite right. Is it the abuse of the organ? Probably… You get the picture…
Nevertheless, there are a couple of bright exceptions! For example, “The Sound of Dying Demons” stands in the same level as the darkest anthems! “The Lights of There”, is also a great song overall but in this case Robert Lowe steals the show. Unlike his live performances I doubt there are many out there who can dispute his talent and quality of voice in the studio acts. This time he pushes his abilities to the max offering his best CANDLEMASS performance and abandoning the band with his head high.
Without being a bad album the CANDLEMASS latest (and intensively advertised as last) offering is nothing sort of majestic. As expected it stands many levels below their early legendary albums but now I come think that it is probably one scale inferior to both “King of the Gray Islands” and “Death Magic Doom”. Again this material is nothing close to a bad album and I think some songs will benefit when played live.
I bet my left nut that this is not the end. And yes, that includes their studio carrier also. I am confident that we will hear from them soon! “Psalms For the Dead” sounds simply too…normal for a monster band such as CANDLEMASS to end its bright carrier with. After all, CANDLEMASS still seem young and without doubt they still have a lot to give before they call it a day. And do you wanna know how the next one will sound? Take a listen to the last KRUX album.