Metal and its legion of followers have a very healthy respect for the genre’s roots, as well as each varying sound’s pioneers. This is a kingdom built on the back of legends, and as the ones that continue to actively tour and record these days become a smaller number, we try to keep bearing the torch for these artists, hellbent to show them every bit of our respect.
As we’ve lost heroes such as Lemmy and Ronnie James Dio, other have marched on with astonishing strength and power including Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, and two band we are discussing today: doom legends Candlemass, and NWOBHM icons Diamond Head. Both bands have carried on through the decades, shedding members here and there, but always finding their way to the studio and the stage. The fact that both keep putting out strong, relevant material is glorious indeed, and both have new collections headed our way that are definitely worth your time and attention.
We’ll kick off with Candlemass, a band that seemed to be winding down but instead are forging toward their 30th anniversary with excellent new EP “Death Thy Lover.” This band has created 11 full-length record over their time together and some, including debut “Epicus Doomicus Metallicus” as well as “Nightfall” and “Tales of Creation,” are considered classics. They are right up there with the mighty Black Sabbath as one of doom’s greatest pioneers, and the amount of followers they have amassed is innumerable. The band originally announced their last album, 2012’s “Psalms for the Dead,” would be their final one, but now with new vocalist Mats Leven (he also did a turn in 2006) joining the classic lineup of guitarists Lars Johansson and Mats Bjorkman, bassist Leif Edling, and drummer Jan Lindh, the guys sound rejuvenated and full of life.
The title track kicks things off, with the guitars blending in out of the darkness, and the song hitting a furious gallop. Leven’s singing is both raspy and powerful, with his pipes really hammering home the chorus and lines including, “He’s your only friend, he’s watching over you.” Don’t get all fuzzy. He’s singing about death. The track has a huge 1980s feel, like it could have been an easy hit on Headbangers Ball. “Sleeping Giant” is a cool storyteller, a tale of a long-lost god slumbering under the earth after past defeat. Ominous riffs lay the foundation, while Leven relays, “Once you were the king,” only to later proclaim, “One day you will return.” The guitar work is fiery, the vocals are powerful, and they even get a little muddy before the whole thing is over. “Sinister N Sweet” is sludgy as hell at first, going cold for a while, but as the menacing tale is told, the evil sentiment get thicker and nastier. The chorus is infectious and mean, something that should go over quite well live. Closer “The Goose” is an instrumental that begins by chugging and smothering before the lead guitars go off and unleash electricity. The track has its plot points down, with the melodies cutting, Edling’s bass chewing flesh later on, and the whole thing coming to a blinding, burly finish. This is a pretty nice morsel from a band that hopefully still has future records in them.
For more on the band, go here: http://www.candlemass.se/
To buy the album, go here: https://shop.napalmrecords.com/
For more on the label, go here: https://www.facebook.com/napalmrecords
Diamond Head most people know from Metallica lauding their work and covering a shitload of their songs, but let’s not make a mistake about how vital they are to metal. The group’s work is awash in killer riffs and dangerous grooves, and while they may not have reached the heights they deserved over the years, the fact they’re still moving and creating really fun stuff, including their new self-titled full-length album (out June 24 in the States), is a huge credit to them. The one constant in the band has been lead guitarist Brian Tatler, and he’s currently armed with a damn stellar cast of players including brand new vocalist Rasmus Bom Andersen (he would have been an AOR dream in the ’70s, and I mean that as a high compliment), guitarist Andy Abberley, bassist Eddie Moohan, and drummer Karl Wilcox.
The record moves more toward hard rock than metal, at least as we know it now, and the tracks are really gigantic and really melodic. Opener “Bones” is a damn fine song, a really fitting introduction to this new era of Diamond Head. Andersen’s vocals really boost a lot of life into these songs, and the band sounds on fire during every one of these 11 cuts. “Set My Soul on Fire” should sound pretty dynamic live, with the riffs coming on ominously and the simple chorus packing a wallop. “All the Reasons You Live” has a fantasy element to it, with a lot of it driving slowly through dramatic synth and into fiery soloing from Tatler. “Blood on My Hands” has sweltering guitars, striking melodies, and strong singing, while closer “Silence” starts with strange throat singing, only to develop into a Zeppelin-style drama that’s brainy and impressive. There are some down moments, such as “Wizard Sleeve” that sounds a little cock rock-ish, as well as “Speed” that falls into that same rut. But those really are minor complaints. For the most part, this is a strong release from a band that has been blazing the path for four decades now and obviously have fuel left in the tank.
For more on the band, go here: http://www.diamond-head.net/
To buy the album, go here: http://www.plastichead.com/
For more on the label, go here: http://www.dissonanceproductions.co.uk/
Metal’s landscape might not look anything like it does today were it not for Candlemass and Diamond Head. These are two legendary bands still in our midst, creating music that remains top notch and vital to everyone’s understanding of where the heaviness came from in the first place. Both of these collections are worth your while, so don’t go sleeping on these two pioneering bands while they’re still out and whipping people’s asses into shape.