Candlemass - Sweet Evil Sun (Napalm Records)
With temperatures dropping below freezing in the northeastern United States but the full force of Mother North still to come, the season is prime for slow, heavy, and epic music. To that point, there could be no better time for legendary masters of doom, Candlemass, to release their latest offering to the masses.
The thirteenth album from one of Sweden's finest, Sweet Evil Sun serves as a soundtrack to the last leaves of the year that gracefully fall from the withering forests. A sonic guide through the greying landscape where the few remaining colors will soon be put to rest beneath blankets of snow and ice.
From the opening riffs of "Wizard Of The Vortex", it is nearly impossible to resist nodding one's head in unison with the driving guitars, while bowing in the presence of vocalist Johan Längquist's mighty pipes.
While not always associated with catchy chorus or infectious hooks, Candlemass has long defied this trait of the doom metal genre and do so once again with the title track and "Scandinavian Gods". Following a solemn acoustic intro, "Devil Voodoo" picks up the pace, which continues into "Crucified" before slowing down for the ice cold grooves of "Goddess".
As perhaps one of the finest dirges for the end of autumn and the coming winter, "When Death Sighs" features a guest appearance from doom siren, Jennie-Ann Smith, of fellow Swedish doomsters, Avatarium. Together, Smith and Längquist dial the 'epic' knob to 11 and leave it there: a perfect match made in the Nordic lands.
The Metal Mayan Review:
Listening to this album on a night when a bitter wind has brought the first taste of winter to town, Sweet Evil Sun feels more like an experience than just an album. The glacial grooves take me back to a ride I took through a fjord in Sweden in 2002: as though I don't just want to reach the top of the mountain, I want to conquer it and make it bow to me.
I was not prepared for the beautiful harmonies of Johan Längquist and Jennie-Ann Smith. It was like the best of Paradise Lost and Nightwish combined with a dash of goth rock ala The 69 Eyes and made epic.
Here is hoping for a Candlemass tour in the U.S. in 2023. Until then, visit your local record store and pick up a copy of Sweet Evil Sun, out now on Napalm Records!