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If Black Sabbath invented doom metal, then it has to be said that Candlemass made it popular. The proliferation of doom metal and its many sub-genres (which Sofacoin enumerates and explains here), especially epic doom metal, is due to Candlemass.

Candlemass was founded in Sweden by bassist Leif Edling in 1985, who continues to lead the band today despite lineup changes in every other position. Edling writes most of the music and lyrics, and for a time before recording their first album, acted as lead vocalist. In 1986, their first album Epicus Doomicus Metallicus was released, and cut a new facet in the gem of doom metal, a genre that had been stagnating for years. With Johan Längqvist's indefatigable operatic vocals and Edling's inexorably crushing riffs the like of which had not been heard since Electric Funeral or War Pigs, Candlemass had invigorated the metal world in an unexpected way. Rather than pursue the burgeoning career paths of thrash and speed metal, Candlemass sought to slow everything down and pump up the theatrics. It worked.

Epic doom metal does two things well: sorrow and despair. Edling sought to capture the essence of doom in music, and achieved it with guitar riffs that poured thick and suffocating onto the stage. Almost every somber guitar chord is punctuated with drums and cymbals. In fact, the ponderous drum beat is a key feature of early Candlemass; you will rarely hear an extraneous drum. They serve only to add weight to the guitar (not that it really needs it). The lyrical content and imagery is generally of magic and fantasy, though often there is a Christian overtone. Often when one turns to religion, it is an act of desperation, and turning from it is often one of hopelessness. Christian mythology appeals to the epic aspirations and solemnity of the songs using the concepts of Heaven and Hell. Absolutes or extremes of good and evil are vital parts of epic literature.

Candlemass has had a rocky history, due mostly to vocalist Messiah Marcolin, who replaced Längqvist on the second album Nightfall. While he certainly filled his predecessor's boots, it is apparent that there were long-standing issues between Marcolin and the other members. After two more albums, Marcolin left the band. He would return in 2002 after a period in which Candlemass had recorded an album, disbanded, reformed with a new lineup, recorded two other albums, and broken up again, only to come back under the original Nightfall lineup. The band played live shows in this incarnation, but no new albums were recorded, and eventually they fell apart again. In 2004, they reformed, and released the self-titled album Candlemass a year later.

In 2006, Candlemass announced they were working on another album, but Messiah Marcolin left again. In need of a new vocalist, they recruited Robert Lowe of Solitude Aeturnus, and in 2007 released King of the Grey Islands. Lowe has chosen to be a part of Solitude Aeturnus and Candlemass both. Because he lacks the full, dramatic style that previous Candlemass vocalists have had, the album King of the Grey Islands is slightly different from classic Candlemass, but upon release was very well-received regardless. Many noted how neatly Lowe's intense delivery matched the lyrical themes of severe depression and paranoia. King of the Grey Islands was considered a departure, but a successful one. With a growing sentiment that Candlemass had not put out a good album since the early days of Nightfall or Tales of Creation, it couldn't have come at a better time.


Albums:

Epicus Doomicus Metallicus (1986)
Nightfall (1987)
Ancient Dreams (1988)
Tales of Creation (1989)
Live (1990, live album)
Chapter VI (1992)
Dactylis Glomerata (1998)
From the 13th Sun (1999)
Doomed for Live: Reunion 2002 (2003, live album)
Candlemass (2005)
King of the Grey Islands (2007)


EPs:

Sjunger Sigge Fürst (1993)
Wiz (1998)
Lucifer Rising (2008)


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