Candlemass is kind of a strange band. They have been all over the place throughout their career. While they are first and forement known as doom metal pioneers (as they should be), they have ran the gamut of variances in their music. There was even a brief stint of their attempt at power metal and rock. After a few solid releases in the early days, a lot of discussions about reunions which never happened became the norm. After all of that nonsense, Candlemass did what I consider to be a brilliant move. They enlisted the service of the amazing vocalist Robert Lowe (Solitude Aeturnus). Lowe has been at is for years and just has the voice for doom metal.
With Lowe, they have released some decent stuff, which many would disagree with, but I am sticking to my guns on that one. They even released a very nice live album. Of course, Lowe has since been replaced by the band, but he did perform vocals on Psalms for the Dead.
As far as Psalms for the Dead goes, the album is solid on all fronts. While staying true to their doom metal roots, they include such tactics like Iron Maiden-inspired harmonies and, of course, tons of nods to Black Sabbath.
The album opens of with Prophet, which is more than an ample tune. The riffs and vocals fit well and the song is actually catchy. I cannot believe that I am actually saying it, but the song is indeed very catchy. While I am not a fan of the repetitive chorus, it does stick with you.
The album then follows into The Sound of Dying Demons, which is called up from the utter depths of hell. The verse sections are evil and awesome. The chorus, once again, just repeats the song title a few times. During the solo break, the tempo ramps up a bit before falling back into that dark chasm to finish the song out.
We then move to Dancing in the Temple (of the Mad Queen Bee), which is a wordy (and not very intriguing) title. This one is all over the place with some solid moments residing in the vocal portions, but overall, the song is quite lacking.
Waterwitch follows, which is either a nod to Black Sabbath or a blatant rip-off. The beginning is eerily reminiscent of Electric Funeral. What follows is your typical Candlemass song, but Lowe does add an extra punch to this one with his vocals. That boost still does not help this song out though.
The title track, Psalms for the Dead, is probably the highlight of the album, with a lot of nice touches including a wicked solo.
Overall, the album is pretty good, but will not make anyone’s top ten list for 2012. I wish that Candlemass still packed the punch that they once did, but the glory days are gone. While not completely irrelevant, they are almost a shell of their former selves. With Lowe gone though, things could go downhill rather quickly.