The past is the future. This is only too true for Doom Metal bands, many of whom still fawn over Black Sabbath with all the passion of a jilted lover. But once in a while, the love is returned, and one of the original line-up blesses a band with their presence. This time around, it’s Swedish legends Candlemass’s turn to blag a Sabbath cameo, in the form of Tony Iommi riffing himself silly on their new album, The Door To Doom (Napalm Records).
It’s only for one track, of course – ‘Astorolus – The Great Octopus’, which comes with a video where a woman cavorts naked with a cephalopod, as you do. But the rest of the album also brings in the nostalgia in the form of the band’s first lead singer, Johan Langquist. He returns to sing the lyrics like the last four decades didn’t happen. But what do we get in return?
The Door To Doom is nowhere as huge nor as crushing in scale as the band’s early work. You won’t be laid waste like you were with the devastating ‘Samarithan’, for example. But what the album does consistently – relentlessly even – is produce sturdy, well-honed and engaging Doom Metal for its duration.
‘Astorolus…’, as you might expect, is one of the most accessible. It’s suitably slow and has good ear-worm, but it doesn’t feel like any boundaries are being pushed. Another song, ‘House Of Doom’, has a magnificent riff that it repeats non-stop to good effect, even though the chorus seems eerily predictable.
And so the album proceeds for the most part. But time and again there is the sense that the band doesn’t quite hit the heights it once could. Album closer, ‘The Omega Circle’, is a case in point. In some ways, it has the opposite problem to ‘House Of Doom’. Here the chorus is smoking, but most of the song sounds like a washed out echo of the band’s earlier work, a pick ‘n mix of familiar sounding riffs, warbling chords, and forlorn imagery, all lacking the depth and power of those glory days.
And yet, here the band is, still in better shape than Sabbath after all these years. The past is the future.
6 / 10