Here we go again. With Messiah Marcolin's second acrimonious exit from the band that made him famous (and he they, in turn), Candlemass' long-suffering fans must once again contend with conflicting allegiances and emotions regarding the ongoing legitimacy of one of doom metal's charter groups. Of course, most would argue that it has always been bassist and composer Leif Edling -- not Marcolin -- who embodies the essence of Candlemass, but that doesn't make it any easier for the vast majority of their supporters to live without the operatic spark injected by the twice-departed singer's imposing vocal (and physical) presence. But live without it they must, as the hallowed Swedes forge ahead in their career via their ninth studio album, 2007's King of the Grey Islands, by welcoming none other than Solitude Aeturnus frontman Robert Lowe into the fold. This, as any veteran doom enthusiast will know, is an intriguing choice to say the least, since Lowe's former band was frequently described as "America's answer to Candlemass," therefore only heightening curiosity as to how he'll fare -- especially since, for their part, Edling and his instrumental cohorts have delivered a selection of songs that's easily as strong and consistent as that of their most recent, eponymous effort with Messiah at the helm. Even so, it must be said that Lowe's exceptional pipes still come across like José Carreras as compared head-on to Marcolin's booming Pavarotti in terms of sheer, stupefying power, but Lowe's range as a stylist is arguably more versatile, as he is capable of exploring softer cadences on songs like "Of Stars and Smoke" and the curiously Slayer-ish "Embracing the Styx." The band also achieves truly sterling results on epic old-school crawlers like "Devil Seed," "Destroyer," and the more energetic "Clearsight," as well as a few not so good ones like the Cathedral-styled "Emperor of the Void" and "Demonia 6." So even if there's never a satisfying consensus over this whole "Messiah mess" (and there won't be!), doom fans can rest assured that King of the Grey Islands once again proves Candlemass' enduring relevance and near supremacy in the upper echelons of the doom field.
AllMusic Review by Eduardo Rivadavia