Epicus Doomicus Metallicus

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During the mid-80's, the European heavy metal scene was dominated by countless thrash, death, and black metal bands playing at breakneck speeds and screaming in a high-pitched frenzy. So when Candlemass released their debut, Epicus Doomicus Metallicus in 1986, its songs (featuring slow, lumbering riffs straight out of the Black Sabbath handbook and vocals delivered in a baritone, operatic style) offered up a stylistic curve ball of shocking proportions. After disposing of its deceptively optimistic introductory acoustic guitar, opener "Solitude" develops into a complete monster, replete with lyrics of suicidal depression and churning with the most colossal, down-tuned guitar riff since Sabbath's "Iron Man." And that's just the beginning, as succeeding tracks "Demon's Gate," "Crystal Ball," and "Under the Oak" (later re-recorded in its definitive version for the band's fourth album Tales of Creation) trudge by with deliberate, immutable doom. Although the group's vision was startlingly well-conceived and unique for its time, bassist, songwriter and all-around group leader Leif Edling had yet to find all the right components. And despite offering the strongest, most consistent songwriting of the band's career, Epicus Doomicus Metallicus was let down by vocalist Johan Lanquist, whose performance failed to deliver with the power and command of his immediate successor Messiah Marcolin. A pillar of classic '80s metal nonetheless, this album will satisfy all doomsters.

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