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Thursday, June 14, 2012

Candlemass - Psalms for the Dead review

Year : 2012
Genre : Epic Doom Metal
Label : Napalm
Origin : Sweden
Rating : 4.0 / 10

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The reviewer is not important in a review, but now it is important to note that I'm a fan of Sweden. I'm an Abba fan, a Meshuggah nuthugger and meshuggah metal aficionado, and Swedish women seem to be beautiful cosmic constructs - though I've never met one in real life yet to this day - and Sweden sounds to have an interesting, funny native language, too. Tomas Ledin's timeless "Just Nu" drew my attention to this percept. Also, Sweden has the most high suicide rate in the world currently, which probably shows that they are deeply spiritual people. It is easy to kill yourself if you take yourself too serious. Like this release does with its last song, "Black As Time", more on that later. The reason I'm making these initial observations, is the following : I don't like the fact that yet again I must write bad things about a Swedish disc after the Diablo Swing Orchestra's latest output, because, believe you me, I wanted to love this release from Swedish doom metal ancients, Candlemass. But it is impossible, for me, because I find 75% of this release - to be modest - vastly underwhelming, non-inspired AND non-inspiring. Read on to find out more about this.

The new Candlemass release "Psalms for the Dead" depresses me greatly, but, luckily I need not to be crushed by this percept, because I can tell you all about it and purge the terror from my nervous system in the process. Wow. The music on the disc, in my opinion, is sweaty, an epitome of uninspired power chord platitudes, and brings to the table the kind of yellow belt level doom riffage that you want to go BEYOND at the first place, when you'd like to write a doom song that you plan to showcase claiming it exhibits Balls, a Transmission, and Dignity at the same time. Said constellation is never evident and observable on this Candlemass LP.

I'm a devoted nuthugger of American doom band Argus, a little known squad that truly deserves your attention, - nope, I'm not getting money for saying so - and I realize that said band set the bar super-high with the high definition compositional works that is their trademark, along with Butch Balich, who, in my opinion, is one particular variant for the Perfect Doom Metal Singer. He is doing this since Cthulhu been mastering the arts of competent baby pampers wielding, and I don't claim that Balich is the ONLY one perfect doom metal lead singer, but I claim he IS one. Check out this, and this song from them, for example. And THEN come back to this Candlemass release and compare your experiences. You will scratch your face off, this much is guaranteed. Go ahead, maybe you're going to look better with your face ripped off.

The Psalms for the Dead LP has a legendarily hard time coming up with genuine CONTENT that is worth harassing a snob with at the first place. The album packs decent, beefy, legit production values, which though channels such an underwhelming variant of alleged doom - phah! - metal that is sufficient to make a retirement home rebel on high octane. I do not consider the opening track a legitimate entry at all. The first sign of something not being humtpy dory, because you don't want your doom full length start out with a song like this. "Propheeeeeet". Seriously? You sure it is not : "Prodigal Soooo-ooon!"? Wait, I know! "Fire wizaaa-aaard!" "Naaah, but we have a "Waterwitch", track number 4."

The second song exhibits promise, and it manages to hit the mark of a filler track, but, with its chorus - "the SOUND. of DYING. Deeeemoooooons!" it fails to notice that it collapses to the floor as its own miserable fantasy cartoon parody. It also becomes apparent that "The Sound of Dying Demons" is SUCH indeed, that it only is conceivable by the "60's Sci-Fi Horror" setting on your synth. Cool story, bro. This is the kind of idea Dave Mustaine loves to work with when he has no actual material, but is reluctant to admit it to himself. The song is the story of this album, too, unfortunately. This cartoon-nonsense chorus is the band's excuse for-, and also its misunderstanding of the concept of eloquent content, such was the level of their lack of inspiration during the creation process of this supertepid - oxymoron? - release.

I admit though in all circumstances that the guitar solo of the song is top notch, the lead guitarist could be a welcome addition to any doom squad.

"Black As Time" starts out with a narrative rant directed towards time, in which it gets depicted as a bad guy. Time indeed is the Ultimate Terrorist, but only if and when the rules of a physical universe are extrapolated and are reigning in effect. Some claim a physical universe not always is in effect, but consciousness : is. This perspective makes more sense, because it is non-economical to throw away a perfectly valid sentient being with its inner worlds. In the light of this, the song loses a healthy amount of its OH!, so frightening charisma. OK, loses all of it, because it no longer is frightening, just a parody of fright.
The song itself is a decent filler, but keep in mind that a decent filler is the rarity on this album, as the majority of the songs are - I dare say these - sweaty, bloated, cheesefestation doom mockeries reeking flat inertia, and show no promise at revealing the Animal you hope you will be haunted by during a proper doom release. You are haunted by boredom, and even bore-doom would be better than that, and I apologize.

I'd like to reiterate my claim that I wanted to love this disc, and it simply is impossible for me. The album comprises of songs that sound to have been created by an Iron Maiden powercheese-anthem generator. "The Killing of the Sun", for example : God, this song is a tedious nervous breakdown. It impertinently reeks the lack of inspiration and a complete lack of ideas, in my opinion. Listen how the the singer follows the tepid, boring, ultra-coarse "anatomy" of the riff. The patterns show NOTHING beyond the clumsy denial of nothing. What's with the chorus? The riff remains the same as in the verse, but the LYRICS change!! "The killing of the : suuuuuuun." Nope. The killing of your reputation. I just looked out the window and the sun bitchslapped me. Bah, all in all, this track, "Killing of the Sun", is the soundtrack for a dramatic fantasy puppet show in the Shrek Universe, and I don't think I would be able to hear this song again without suffering permanent soul damage. Maybe it is too late already.

"The Lights of Thebe" is like a filler from a baaaaad-bad Conan musical, that, luckily for us, still is incomplete. Oriental, rudimentary riffage in the verse, and the singing is nothing else than an act of consorting to the backdrop without taking any risk OR actual narrative/melodic routes, for that matter. The lead singer babbles along like a dramatic teddy bear in his eventless comfort zone, about the riches and dangers of this exotic caravan journey filled with thrills, adventures and the likes, and it truly is underwhelming as a doom metal experience, in my opinion. Robert E. Howard is not approving, and Conan is looking for all performers and listeners to skin them alive. (As a start.)

Bring the flame if you must, but, if you feel that you must indeed, then please before you do so, check out the Argus songs I have been linking to you in the earlier portion of this review. I love doom metal because it loathes me, and I simply think that this is not the praising-, but the blaming of the genre. Candlemass of course has all the right in the world to deliver a relentlessly underwhelming doom metal release. And they just have exercised this right.

Once again : the guitar solos are top of the food chain, but, the only things that I can wholeheartedly recommend on this release. It just breaks the heart that you hear such super solos in such tepid songs.

Rating : 4.0 / 10

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