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The Unstoppable Candlemass Opens “The Door to Doom” (Interview)

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Veteran Swedish doom metal band Candlemass are on the cusp of tomorrow’s release of their latest album The Door to Doom. It has been over 30 years since the band’s iconic debut Epicus Doomicus Metallicus was released and, despite singing on this genre-defining work, it was not until last year that current vocalist Johan Längqvist joined the band as a full member. The Door to Doom will also be the first Candlemass full-length since 2012’s Psalms for the Dead, which at the time of release, was announced as the final Candlemass album, due in part to the ill health of bassist, founding member, and primary songwriter Leif Edling. It was not long after, however, before the band went on to release EPs with new material (Death Thy Lover in 2016 and House of Doom in 2018), and announce the return of vocalist Johan Längqvist as a full-time member following the departure of then-vocalist Mats Levén.

While several other vocalists have sung in Candlemass since Epicus Doomicus Metallicus, Längqvist’s performances meld perfectly with the instrumentation provided by the rest of the band. Stylistically speaking, Candlemass are best known for their heavy, slow riffing and drumming melded with dramatic, operatic vocals. This much is entirely true of The Door to Doom, which stays largely faithful to the sound the band have been refining across their career so far. However, it also sees them at their most experimental yet, featuring their first ballad in “Bridge of the Blind.” One of the influences that Candlemass have remained more or less faithful to over the years have been Black Sabbath, and guitarist Tony Iommi is featured on The Door to Doom with a shearing solo on “Arctorolus.”

Edling was kind enough to take the time during the band’s European tour with Ghost to answer a few questions about their new album and the return of Johan Längqvist.

— Emily Marty

[Editor’s Note: We found Edling’s responses endearingly formatted, so aside from a few spelling fixes, we’ve left his answers unformatted to best preserve his original voice.]

Given how important Candlemass has been for innovating and developing doom metal, how much have you followed the different offshoots of doom that have developed since Epicus Doomicus Metallicus? What are your thoughts on modern doom metal?

I have followed the doom scene over the years with cool bands like Cathedral, Paradise Lost, Electric Wizard etc, but later on I must admit that I’ve lost track a bit. Know that there’s a lot of good bands out there now, went to Roadburn w Doomsday Kingdom f.e., so I know the scene is alive n well :-) Blood Ceremony is a great band btw

Candlemass have evolved a great deal since Epicus Doomicus Metallicus, and I think The Door to Doom is the most adventurous and diverse release that this lineup of Candlemass (despite the change of vocalist) has released. How do you feel about the evolution of the band’s music over the years?

i think we have managed to survive as a band because we haven’t changed much. We’re still the same band, same musicians with the same ambition as before. We do have a small room to maneuver around, but I see no need to change the sound. I’m very happy w Door to Doom, traditional Cmass, in your face, no bull! But we do have a ballad for the first time ever. Bridge of the blind. Fits the album I think. Nice n moody:-) there are some cool shit on the record. Adventurous doom!!

You’ve mentioned that original vocalist Johan, who became a full member for The Door to Doom, didn’t want to rejoin Candlemass for a long time. Can you explain some of the reasoning behind that?

He had his own band Jonah Hex, who were getting popular in the northwest of Sthlm. I totally respect him for that. We tried to persuade him, he stuck to his band. So it was. But we’ve bumped into him here n there during the years. Kept the contact. We also did a couple of Epicus anniversary gigs w Johan. Always a pleasure to meet him. Great guy. Super singer!

How was it working with Johan after such a long time since Epicus Doomicus Metallicus was released?

Fantastic! We hit it off in the studio right away. Tried diff stuff, harmonies, different verses n choruses. Johan is great to work with. So humble and easy, also comes up w nice ideas himself. Never afraid to try things.

Did Johan have much involvement in the writing of the material on The Door to Doom? What was the songwriting process in general for this album like?

Johan came in after the album was written and recorded (and mixed). We took a month off to rest our heads n ears (September) and worked for a month w putting the new vocals on. Remixed in November.

The album took about a year to write, and the overall process 18 months. This period also includes the House of Doom maxi. So we were in the studio for a long time. I was also sick, still struggling w fatigue syndrome. A bit difficult to go to the studio everyday. But the days I couldn’t go there, I was at home resting n writing, worked on arrangements etc. Not optimal of course. But the only way I could do it. Next time we will be able to rehearse + work w efficiency in a studio. It’s a labour of love, so you’ll find a way:-)

How did making The Door to Doom compare to recording Epicus Doomicus Metallicus?

With Epicus we rehearsed as fxxk and we’re able to record it in just a few days. It came out absolutely fantastic, without you knowing how the fxxk you did it. Probably a mix between the love of metal + pure luck Hahahaha!

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Were you able to meet with Tony Iommi before he recorded the solo on “Astorolus?” How do you feel about the end result?

We never met him. Our manager asked him via Tony’s personal mngr, and we got a Yes back after a couple of weeks time. I was totally in seventh heaven, but had to keep my mouth shut for a long time before it was official. Hardest thing ever!! And I really love the solo! So much feeling in it n great tone. He really put something in it, and I respect him immensely for it. What a guy! Hats off!

When it was released, Psalms for the Dead was announced as Candlemass’s last album. What led you guys to reform and record as Candlemass once again?

Yeah, we said we shouldn’t record again. I was ill and the band did well anyway. Played lots of good gigs without me so no real need for an album. But when I wrote the House of Doom song for the Igame with the same name, I felt inspired again. The songs and riffs came to me… would be a shame Not to record. The band felt the same way. Napalm Records were not hard to persuade either. So, I’m glad we decided to do Door to Doom. People, fans, press seem to love it. The atmosphere in Cmass is better than ever. We have lots of fun in the band now. That’s what it’s all about! 😀

Finally, illness prevented you from playing live and recording for some time — how are you now? Will you be playing on the upcoming Candlemass shows?

I’m a bit better now, but still struggle with the fatigue syndrome. Have to take it easy and rest, eat healthy, not drink too much. Not exactly rock n roll, but if that’s what it takes for me to join the band live and be able to tour, sure… I’ll be a good boy😀 The tour with Ghost is going just great so I hope I can do every show this year. Even come to the states in the fall😀😀😀

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