Cult of the Doomed

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Death, magic, and doom; yep, sounds like Candlemass to me. And what a rejuvenated band the legendary quintet have become with the addition of Solitude Aeturnus howler Robert Lowe. It’s not like the self-titled comeback album with Messiah Marcolin is anything to sneeze at (it is indeed a great disc), but when Lowe entered the fold for King of the Grey Islands, he breathed new life (new death?) into the band, a quality that is even more evident on Death Magic Doom, an album that saw Lowe actually record with his band mates. It is certainly my favorite of the last three albums and, dare I say, one of the best albums of the group’s career. It is a grand declaration of Candlemass doom that weaves Leif Edling’s crushing, yet darkly beautiful, riffs with morose melody and a songwriting effort that is nothing short of stellar. Lowe discusses his place in the band, as well what will easily end up one of 2009’s top metal albums in Death Magic Doom.

Leif Edling’s statement about Death Magic Doom that “this is the best album we have recorded since Nightfall” sets up some pretty lofty expectations for the new long player.  How comfortable do you feel about that statement?

Oh, I’m totally fine with it.  I do agree that it’s one of the better Candlemass albums.  Although the prior albums have their own appeal and their own status with the music community.

I’ve not decided where the album ranks yet, but it is without a doubt not just an outstanding doom album, but an outstanding heavy metal album. It’s got the heavy-handed Sabbath inspiration, the emotion, the up-tempo numbers, hot leads, great melodies, and one hell of a lot of doom tonnage.

I would totally agree with you.  I basically feel the same way about this album.  It does start with an upbeat typical metal song and then goes directly into a bad ass Candlemass doomer.  The rest of the album continues to take you on a journey of doom and metal.

In fact, the melodies may be among the catchiest this band has ever written. Whether it’s “Hammer of Doom,” “The Bleeding Baroness,” or “House of 1000 Voices” (which is pretty damn creepy I might add), those choruses really stick to the ribs.  Would you agree?

Of course I would agree.  I am singing it!  [Laughs] But really Leif continually comes up with incredibly catchy riffs.  He is the riff master.  It is always a pleasure to sing over these melodies and so therefore of course I do enjoy it.

Incidentally, would you say that sometimes bands dubbing themselves “doom” too often sacrifice hooks for outright heaviness?

You know what?  I don’t know if I can truly answer that one.  I stick to myself and my own little hole and don’t listen to much.  My current upkeep on the music scene is very limited at this point and time.

On “If I ever Die,” you’re given the vocal spotlight – it’s all you with the instrumentation dropped up. How easy or difficult were the vocal takes on that one?

Leif and I discussed it before I took the mic.  I nailed it one pass.

“Hammer of Doom” is just plain classic and seems to owe an extra heavy debt to Black Sabbath (the song “Black Sabbath” in particular).

To my understanding this song was a tongue and cheek homage to the forefathers of doom themselves.  One of my favorites at this point and time.  I totally love playing it.  So therefore I have no issues with the comparison with this song and “Black Sabbath” itself.

You were going to name the album Hammer of Doom, but decided against it because of the festival of the same name. Was it more an issue of professional courtesy on your parts or was there a trademark issue involved?

No there was no trademark issue involved.  Seeing that the festival was going to happen before or after the album came out the general consensus was to just avoid any linkage between the two and/or future misunderstandings.

Did you feel more comfortable singing on this album compared to King of the Grey Islands?

When recording King of the Grey Islands it was basically just me and the engineer because it was done in Dallas.  There was no immediate feedback from the band.  But I was comfortable recording the vocals because that is what I do.  Although recording Death Magic Doom was a little different simply because I was in Stockholm and had my band-mates for either input and/or encouragement, which obviously made the recording process a lot different.

Leif still wrote all the music and lyrics, but was there room for your contributions to the arrangements, even subtle ones?

No.  The music was actually already laid before I got to Stockholm, but Leif and I did have several discussions on wordage, phrasing and the approach to the actual vocals themselves, which did have an impact on how the vocals were laid.  So yes in that aspect I did have some control.

Any particular reason that you chose the “Lucifer Rising” outtake as the U.S. bonus track or was that a record label decision?

You know I have no idea and or control with who does what with what version.  Personally, I am pleased with all versions.  So there you go.

Incidentally, including the Athens shows on that “EP” was a real treat, as folks got to hear Robert Lowe singing the classics, as well as the newer material. Considering the crowd response (and song accompaniment), it sounded like a magical show. Was it?

Oh absolutely!  I don’t know what it is with the people in Greece, but they are true fanatics and true metal heads and it is always a pleasure to play for the Greeks.  Hell, half the time I couldn’t even hear myself singing.  The audiences are truly great.

You’ve appeared on a lot of Candlemass products in a short period of time – two full length albums, an EP, and a DVD. I suppose that’s one way to introduce the world to Robert Lowe, wouldn’t you say?

Hey, I’m all for anything and everything they want to do.  As a musician it’s a pleasure to be associated with the guys.

Have you heard much of diehard fans complaining about the departure of Marcolin and you taking his place as the voice of Candlemass?

No, actually I have heard nothing but praise.  I have heard a few disgruntled voices, but not enough to make an impact on anyone, in other words, Candlemass.  From what I understand those that doubted have not turned to the dark side!

I caught the last show of the 2008 U.S. tour with Daylight Dies in Fort Worth and was amazed at just how heavy Candlemass is live. John Perez even joined you on stage. What was it like playing a homecoming show like that as the singer of Candlemass?

It was totally cool!  I mean you’ve already got a mixture of Solitude Aeturnus and Candlemass to begin with and then to have John Perez join us on a classic Candlemass tune, it doesn’t get any better.

How did that tour go in general?

In general it was basically a hit or miss, depending on the night and the city.  The states aren’t known for the radio publication of doom metal.  So basically we got to see the true die hard Candlemass fans.

And what was the joke behind the “Candyass” banner” at the back of the stage?

Oh, I have no clue.  It’s a traditional way to end a tour with the roadies/techies pulling a prank.  It’s usually up to them what they do and the band usually never has a clue as to what is going to happen.

I would assume that your first show with Candlemass was probably bigger than most you’ve done with Solitude Aeturnus, although I could be wrong. How did it feel playing doom in front of crowds in Europe that are so much bigger than the states?

No, actually you are wrong.  In 2001 Solitude had a major spot in the Bang Your Head Fest in Germany prior to Megadeth, Dee Snider and ultimately Judas Priest.  Solitude has done Wacken several times and we have recently done Keep It True in 2006.  Solitude and Candlemass will both be playing Rock City Open Air Fest in Romania in August 2009.  So playing for large crowds and fests are just another day!  [Laughs]

Will you be returning to the U.S. for another tour with Candlemass?

Not likely this year my friend.

What’s going on in the Solitude Aeturnus camp? You stunned a lot of people with the pure doom excellence of Alone. That’s a tough act to follow, eh?

No, not really.  We’ve got a lot more cards up our sleeves.  As a matter of fact, the Solitude Aeturnus camp is currently working on new material.  And I would have to say no one is going to be disappointed.

I was lucky enough to catch Solitude Aeturnus at Chicago Power Fest. It sounds like those kinds of festivals and smaller tours, or select shows, will be about all that Solitude Aeturnus will be able to do. Is that a correct assumption?

No, the hiatus days are behind us.  There will be more Solitude Aeturnus in your face.  In fact, we are in discussions about a November 2009 European tour right now.

I know you’re doing music full time now. Did you ever think that this would be a possibility for you prior to joining Candlemass?

Doing something to this stature has obviously been a continual thought mostly as a child’s dream and fortunately enough I have been able to enjoy the last few years.

Could life be any better for you right now?

Could life be any better?  Yeah, can’t it always?  But I’m happy where I’m at.

www.nuclearblastusa.com

www.candlemass.se

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Comments

  1. Commented by: Shawn Pelata

    Sweet interview!! Glad to hear that SA is rising from its slumber as well…love that band.


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