Psalms for the Dead

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Candlemass did not act frivolously when selecting the title for their 11th career album, and third working with former Solitude Aeturnus singer Robert Lowe: Psalms for the Dead. In tandem with its mid-2012 release came the announcement that the celebrated Swedish doom titans would carry on touring now and then, but otherwise refrain from composing and recording new material, effectively marking the end of an often turbulent but overwhelmingly triumphant quarter-century run. Frankly, given the musical evidence at hand, it was time. By and large, Psalms for the Dead is another fine collection of songs: neither as brilliant nor as flawed as Candlemass' best and worst efforts past, consistent with the other two LPs (note the frequent backing organs) graced by Lowe's powerful operatic style, but creatively stagnant nonetheless. Clearly, Candlemass leader Leif Edling knows there's simply no point trying to mess with fan expectations or his band's well-established aesthetic (he's tried already), so why carry on beating it to death indefinitely? And for every persistent show of continued genius working within those limitations (including suicidal highlights like "Dancing in the Temple [Of the Mad Queen Bee]" and "The Lights of Thebe"), one must ask how long can grown men keep churning out songs about prophets ("Prophet") or waterwitches ("Waterwitch"), whatever they are? If anything (and notwithstanding the rare display of humor via the LP-closing "Black as Time"'s Monty Python-like intro), one can confidently state that Psalms for the Dead sees Candlemass going out, if not on a high, certainly in strong health, and obviously on their own terms. Godspeed old friends.... [Shortly following the album's release, it was learned that Lowe had in fact confirmed his exit from the band, leading to the recruitment of occasional Candlemass, Therion, and Krux vocalist Mats Levén as his on-stage replacement.]

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