Last year, Candlemass reached heights never been felt with The Door To Doom. The LP led to the Swedish group’s first Grammy nomination, further establishing them as the unrivaled kings of epic doom metal.
Even though the album didn’t stack up to early recordings such as their first two full lengths, Epicus Doomicus Metallicus and Nightfall, it was a solid release nonetheless, one that finally put them in running for the prestigious award. The Door To Doom was not finished, though, as the band have compiled six unused tracks in the form of an EP titled The Pendulum.
The six tracks comprising The Pendulum are split into three proper songs with vocals and three instrumental interludes. Album opener “The Pendulum” was fully mastered, while the rest of the tracks are rough demos, lending the guitars a gritty aural tactfulness. Black Sabbath seem a major influence to get the album rolling on the first two tracks, “The Pendulum” and “Snakes of Goliath.”
The Sabbath influence may be the most apparent of their career since they released From The 13th Sun, which was dedicated to the fathers of heavy metal. The verse lines of the title track are some of the more up-tempo rhythms on the album, heavily resembling Black Sabbath’s “Symptom of the Universe.” “Snakes of Goliath” has an “Electric Funeral” feel to the verse. Both tracks and “Porcelain Skull” open wide to epic chorus lines.
Although he doesn’t possess a great range, not of the operatic scale as Messiah Marcolin and doesn’t hit the notes as powerfully as he did as session vocalist on their debut, Johan Längquist shines during choral segments. He nails these parts with passion, while not stressing his voice outside of his range. The vocals took some getting used to, but grew on me, especially the melodies.
The title track and “Snakes of Goliath” are a good one-two punch to get the EP started, but the group loses focus with the two following short instrumentals, which come across as filler. “Sub-zero” is an acoustic guitar track and “Aftershock” showcases distorted bass lines by band leader Leif Edling. Both tracks are short, “Aftershock” being the longest at a buck 35, interrupt the album flow and are mere riffs and not songs. If these riffs were turned into a full song or used as a middle bridge or intro, they would fit, but seem out of place in this context. “The Porcelain Skull” brings the focus back to proper songs, before “The Cold Room” ends the album with atmospheric instrumentation.
In the end, we’re left with a mixed bag. The actual songs could be heralded as classic Candlemass and worthy set list additions. While the distorted bass thud on “Aftershock,” chime of acoustic guitar on “Sub-zero” and blissful conclusion of “The Cold Room” sound great, these tracks seem like filler. These tracks sound like bits and pieces of a practice the band recorded; mere jam parts created without a song in place. The Pendulum is not essential Candlemass, but more akin to stuff you get in a box set—for collectors only.
(released March 27, 2020 on Napalm Records)
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Listen To Candlemass – “The Pendulum”