Songs of Torment, Songs of Joy
On Songs of Torment, Songs of Joy the mastermind behind Sweden's doom godfathers, Candlemass tries his hand at atmospheric Gothic metal not unlike latter day Tiamat. The bio sheet says this is an "old school doom gem." I have to disagree with this statement as the manner in which keyboards are used and the heavy plodding riffs give the album an almost industrial and gothic feel. Opening with The Scar, sparse chords and organ synths slowly drive forward only to shy away and open holes for deep spoken words to steal the focus of the song. An almost identical approach is used on Angelic 'til I Die. The keys are higher pitched and the guitars summon visions of nocturnal landscapes somewhat like a less Pink Floyd inspired Wildhoney era Tiamat. Illustrating his main claim to fame, Leif performs a simple yet evocative bass guitar instrumental on Butterfly. My Black Birthday features that same stoic tempo along with spacey keys and deep gothic vocals painted across a pitch black but ultimately lifeless canvas of lumbering riffs. The final track, Nautilus is the album's truly shining moment as it creates a vast and murky soundscape that is symbolic of an undersea journey with Captain Nemo at the help. The Sonar sample that is used liberally through this track creates an isolating and ominous tone that is a backdrop for angelic keys and monstrous riffs that lurk like the leviathan beneath the waves. The sound of Leif's debut is too rigid and lifeless to really make a connection to me. The tracks all plod along at a constant and methodically lethargic pace. If you are a huge fan of Leif and want to see him branch out somewhat from the confines of Candlemass then Songs of Torment, Songs of Joy is a somewhat safe and unfortunately cold and for me disappointing excursion into doomy gothic tinged metal.