Candlemass – Sweet Evil Sun
Release Date: 18/11/2022
Running Time: 54:00
Review by Rory Bentley
Let’s begin with a confession – I love Candlemass. In fact I love pretty much all Epic Doom from Solitude Aeternus to Crypt Sermon. The combination of disgusting riffs and theatrical vocals sprinkled with arcane lyrics and melodies is a real blind spot for me to the point where I sometimes overlook the flaws of albums that fall into this category in a way that I wouldn’t let, say, a Thrash band get away with. Add this admission to the fact that Candlemass are the inventors and kings of this shit, and you can see there is a definite risk of me giving their 13th (oooh spooky) record an easy ride. With that in mind let’s get the negatives out the way before wanking off Leif Edling for the rest of the review.
First things first the album is too long considering the relative lack of variety on display here. This is a common accusation levelled at latter day Candlemass records, with songs often staying on an idea for too long or lacking structural discipline. Opener ‘Wizard of the Vortex’ is a good example of this, staying in the tried and tested Doom lane until the last few seconds where it brings in creepy mediaeval melodies and spooky layered vocals before abruptly moving onto the next song. I would have loved to hear this idea expanded on rather than tacked on the end as a jarring afterthought. I mean the song still absolutely slaps, but it had the potential to be even better with some tweaking.
As alluded to earlier, the limited variety on display here makes more superfluous cuts such as the solid, but unremarkable ‘Crucified’ seem like unnecessary inclusions that stop the album from being the lean killing machine that could sit in the lofty company of the band’s late 80’s output. Even the guest vocals from Avatarium powerhouse Jennie-Ann Smith on ‘When Death Sighs’ fail to add the sort of change of pace and tone the album needs. Don’t get me wrong she’s obviously fantastic because she’s incapable of nothing less, but she only appears for the chorus hook and she’s way too far down in the mix to truly leave her mark on the song. I can understand the reservation to show up Johan Langquidst on the mic but come on lads – when you’ve got someone with pipes like Jennie-Ann in the studio you need to let her off the leash.
Despite these pretty major gripes, I really dig this album and I’ve played the absolute shit out of it since I got it. When Candlemass are at the top of their game, which is quite often over the course of this record, they’re damn near untouchable at this whole Doom schtick. The title track is a melodramatic banger with a super catchy chorus and a riff that you could remove tattoos with. Particularly props must go to Johan Langquidst’s pantomime villain vocals which really sell Leif Edling’s beautifully silly lyrics. His voice has understandably changed since his sonorous, more clean style on the band’s debut album, but his more weathered, raspier tone sounds just as commanding and is delivered with an audible wink.
Major props must go to producer Marcus Jidell, who captures the band at their thundering best with a lively and crisp mix. Despite their defiantly dated song-writing approach, the band still sound very contemporary, with a guitar tone younger bands would kill for. Although some fans may prefer a more rough and ready production job and a heavier dose of reverb, Jidell’s approach works very well and stops the band sounding like a throwback. Ironically they have gone in the opposite direction of many of the younger Doom bands they have influenced, who often appear obsessed with attaining a deliberately retro sound.
Despite my earlier complaint that the album is too long, there are plenty of highlights scattered from front to back whether it be the storming full-throttle ‘Angel Battle’ early on, or the supremely satisfying Viking rager ‘Scandinavian Gods’ towards the end of the record. For a heritage band to put something out that’s so good that I can compare it to younger hungrier acts without being unfair is no small feat. Nearly 40 years into their career, Candlemass still have plenty to offer and “Sweet Evil Sun” is a worthy addition to a legendary catalogue.
‘When Death Sighs’ Official Lyric Video
01. Wizard Of The Vortex
02. Sweet Evil Sun
03. Angel Battle
04. Black Butterfly
05. When Death Sighs feat. Avatarium
06. Scandinavian Gods
07. Devil Voodoo
10. A Cup Of Coffin (Outro)
Johan Lanquist – Vocals
Lars Johansson – Lead Guitar
Mappe Björkman – Rhythm Guitar
Leif Edling – Bass
Janne Lind – Drums
Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Rory Bentley and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.