Album of the Week 30-2016: Candlemass – Tales Of Creation

Back when I was a young teenager, my opinion was that Heavy Metal should be fast. Candlemass – not even Black Sabbath – was the band that single-handedly turned me around. Their combination of massive guitar riffs and powerful vocals – in fact, current singer Mats Levén is the sixth amazing singer the band had throughout its career – immediately appealed to me when I first heard it. Somehow, the lower tempo and accessory grand sound accounts for a very immersive listening experience. And though bassist and main composer Leif Edling will point to Black Sabbath for inventing Doom Metal, Candlemass certainly are trailblazers.

‘Nightfall’, ‘Ancient Dreams’ and ‘Tales Of Creation’ are generally considered the classic period of the band. These records captured the band at the peak of their popularity and most comfortable with their style. And while I wouldn’t disagree with the classic status of ‘Nightfall’, I find myself listening to ‘Tales Of Creation’ more. Not only because it contains more actual songs, but also because this is Edling’s first peak as a songwriter as opposed to a riff writer. While the monolithic Doom riffs are everywhere on the record, but there’s a slightly larger emphasis on different tempos and challenging structures, making it a pleasure to listen to repeatedly.

Speaking of the tempos, most controversial is the inclusion of the instrumental ‘Into The Unfathomed Tower’, Candlemass’ fastest song to date. The discomfort with an uptempo, almost neoclassical piece in which lead guitarist Lars Johansson gets the chance to really shine is understandable, but I really like the energetic nature of the song. Other somewhat faster experiments mainly focus on midtempo work, but where ‘Dark Are The Veils Of Death’ just barely failed to hit the mark for me, ‘Through The Infinitive Halls Of Death’ and ‘Dark Reflections’ are among the band’s best tracks, both tracks containing essential Doom Metal choruses.

When the band focuses on more familiar tempos, they are just as convincing. ‘A Tale Of Creation’ is built upon a slow, crushing riff and a fantastic performance by singer Messiah Marcolin – that lead guitar section by Johansson is nothing to scoff at either – while ‘Somewhere In Nowhere’ manages to stay slow, simple and interesting at the same time. ‘Tears’ is a combination of both approaches with its brooding main riff and perfect guitar arrangement in the midtempo chorus and as a result is one of the hidden gems in Candlemass’ discography.

If that wasn’t enough to convince you, this is also the best produced record in Candlemass history, save for maybe the amazing 2007 record ‘King Of The Grey Islands’. Every performance sounds and feels just perfect, which is the icing on the cake made of Edling’s most consistently awesome set of songs. There is a concept about the origin of life buried somewhere between all these amazing riffs, but apart from two somewhat unnecessary spoken interludes, that should not influence your listening experience either way. If you like Metal in its most primal, Sabbath-y form, ‘Tales Of Creation’ is a great record for you to check out. As is most of Candlemass’ discography really…

Recommended tracks: ‘Tears’, ‘A Tale Of Creation’, ‘Into The Unfathomed Tower’

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