Album Review: Candlemass – Green Valley Live


Album Review: Candlemass - Green Valley Live
Reviewed by Paul Hutchings

Over 35 years since their astonishing debut in ‘Epicus Doomicus Metallicus’, no band can touch the godfathers of doom. The Swedes may have had a revolving door of singers, but few can argue with their legacy. Their most recent album, 2019’s ‘The Door to Doom’ welcomed back singer Johan Längqvist for his first recordings with the band since that 1986 classic although the rest of the band has remained a tight unit since 2004.

Green Valley Live is the band’s lockdown session, their only ‘gig’ of 2020 and one which made history as their only live streamed event. This recording captures the aural delights of that special show, and features Längqvist alongside Mats Björkman (guitar), Lars Johansson (guitar), Leif Edling (bass) & Jan Lindh (drums) as they deliver a show stopping set of classics from their first four albums as well as a gargantuan ‘Astorolus – The Great Octopus’ from their most recent recording.

Opening with ‘The Well of Souls’ from 1987’s ‘Nightfall’, one is immediately struck by how Längqvist adapts his vocals to cope with the song, which was originally delivered by the huge vocal range of Messiah Marcolin. Längqvist does admirably, keeping the levels lower and avoiding any embarrassment with attempts to hit the high parts. Behind him, the crushing riffs of the band remind you exactly how heavy Candlemass are; this is punishing and so enjoyable, with the dual guitar work of Björkman and Johansson surging above the bone-splitting drive of the legendary Leif Edling and drummer Lindh who are locked together. Apart from Längqvist, the rest of the band were of course, the definitive Candlemass unit from 1984-94 when the band first split so it is no surprise that the focus is on material from those first four epic albums.

A rip-roaring ‘Dark Reflections’ retains all the menace it held on the band’s fourth album, ‘Tales of Creation’ whilst ‘Mirror Mirror’ from ‘Ancient Dreams’ is as impressive now as it was back in 1988. Längqvist once again adapting his tone to ensure he does the song justice whilst Johansson’s fiery lead work is as passionate today as it was over 30 years ago.

The great thing about those early albums is that the songs have remained timeless. They genuinely haven’t aged at all, and for someone who was captivated with those records, this is a fantastic opportunity to hear them again in a different setting. Standing against these classics, ‘Astorolus’ is solid, contemporary and fits effortlessly into the set. The short ‘Doom Jam’ slips into the list of tracks whilst the inclusion of the soundcheck version of ‘Demon’s Gate’ is a nice touch.

Whilst this cannot make up for a year of no live music, ‘Green Valley Live’ is an opportunity to hear the seminal doom metal outfit flex their musical muscles and confirm what many of us have long known. Candlemass remain the legendary doom metal band.

ICYMI - Check out our interview with Johan of Candlemass from last year here.

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