With plans to tour with their almost original line up – between the five current members of Candlemass all of them were in the band at some point across the legendary Doom Metal acts first two albums, and all were present and very much correct for 2019’s impressive The Door To Doom (Napalm Records) – on hold, Sweden’s epic morose masters ventured into the world of live lockdown streaming, capturing their 2020 performance from Stockholm’s Studio Gröndahl for release on multiple visual and audio formats under the title of Green Valley Live (Peaceville).
The set list is peerless with ten of the twelve songs from the band’s incredible first four album run, and while there are other Candlemass live albums covering different periods and the plethora of vocalists that have battled with the legacy of their two first singers, most notably Live (Music For Nations), what Green Valley Live does do is allow vocalist Johan Längqvist, who performed on the band’s first and most recent albums, permission (for want of a better phrase) and credibility to perform offerings from the trio of his immediate successor Messiah Marcolin’s holy works that round out that quadrilogy of quintessence.
Some things still don’t feel quite right no matter how much we experience them, but it is not the fault of these epic Doom n’ Gloom merchants that there is a sense of uncanny valley when you hear the distinctive tones of a live band without the noise and presence of a crowd. That only lasts a few moments though, before ‘Well of Souls’ and its glorious combination of iconic stately motifs and big-fat headbanging beats are wrenched from the six-strings of Messrs Björkman and Johansson. A brawny ‘Dark Reflections’ follows, before ‘Mirror Mirror’, the opener from 1988’s Ancient Dreams (Metal Blade), benefits from the raised heart-beat engendered by the elevated live tempo.
Candlemass sans the Messiah is, and always has been, a very valid going concern, as proven by the worthwhile and aforementioned The Door To Doom, and ‘Astorolus’ more than holds its own here – all the trademark drawling riffage with a hefty change of emphasis ushering in a diabolic solo. With gaps between songs kept mercifully short – though the absence of a crowd is particularly notable at the ending of ‘Ancient Dreams’ – this is quickly forgotten as the quintet close things out with two-thirds of their seminal Epicus Doomicus Metallus (Black Dragon), including the epochal ‘Solitude’ and the majesty of ‘The Sorcerer’s Pledge’.
The peak of the release is that closing run from the band’s debut, because as valid to Candlemass as Längqvist is and as strong a performance as he gives, struggling only with ‘Dark are The Veils of Death’ (shame, as the song is an absolute belter), the songs from Nightfall, Ancient Dreams and Tales of Creation will never sound the same without Marcolin’s mercurial tone. That said, Green Valley Live shines a light on the exceptional quantity of songs that exist across the first four releases, as one of the most influential acts of them all took the apocalyptic solemnity and gravity of the doomiest Sabbath to create abiding monoliths of misery.
Buy the album here: https://peaceville.bandcamp.com/album/green-valley-live
7 / 10