In heavy metal, originality counts for almost everything. As the genre took root around the world, the gamesmanship found artists challenging what was previously thought to be possible on traditional rock instruments and evolution was the nucleus. For doom, though, it was about trying to stay as true to the path as Tony Iommi and his Black Sabbath cohorts laid out.
The riff is the true measure of a doom band’s power as all bow and pay homage to Lord Iommi. Only an elite few have maintained their own identity along this road of worship and for so long, one of them being Sweden’s Candlemass and bassist Leif Edling.
Candlemass formed in 1984 (and had been known as Nemesis in the two years prior), unleashing their unassuming debut, Epicus Doomicus Metallicus in 1986. The album featured singer Johan Längquist, a hired studio gun, and the band undoubtedly never expected the record to become genre classic. Längquist was never a full-time member of the band as their legacy grew under the reign of the operatic Messiah Marcolin… until now.
The singer reclaimed his post earlier this year, replacing Mats Levén, and will be making his first studio appearance with Candlemass on the band’s forthcoming 2019 effort, The Door to Doom. Adding to the celebratory atmosphere is the news that Tony Iommi laid down a solo on one of the tracks, “Astorolus – The Great Octopus” marking his first musical contribution since Black Sabbath’s final show in Birmingham on Feb. 4, 2017.
It took more than 30 years, but Johan Längquist is finally a full time member of Candlemass. Multiple attempts were made to cement him in the lineup throughout different periods of the band – why did previous attempts fail and how did it finally come together?
Johan didn’t want to join at first. He had his own band Jonah Hex at the time that did pretty good in the club scene of northern Stockholm. I think he just did our previous drummer Matz Ekström a favor singing on Epicus. In 1992, when Messiah left, Johan tried out, but I think we were looking for a more high-pitched singer. This third and final attempt was luckily more successful. Maybe the time was right`? One more spin around the block, close the circle…back to the roots…I’m very happy he wanted to take part of Candlemass 32 years later. It will be a good year(s) coming.
Tony Iommi, obviously a chief influence, played a solo on one of the new tracks. Did you have a pre-existing relationship with him and how did this collaboration happen?
I’ve been a huge Sabbath fan from about when “Paranoid” came out, and most stuff I do and write is because of Tony Iommi. He’s the godfather of the riff!! Will forever be! The riff is what it all comes down to if you ask me. Without a good riff you’re stuck in the average department. Tony Iommi is the king of the Riff and the world knows it.
That he would even consider playing on one of my songs is a dream come true. I feel very blessed, and I tell you…to keep my mouth shut for a couple of months about it has been horrible. I just wanted to scream from the rooftops! Candlemass were about to tour with Sabbath in 1990 sometime so he might remember it from there. I don’t know why it didn’t happen. Perhaps he also knows that I’m always been giving my respects to Sabbath, and maybe even heard that I’ve got a pretty extensive Sabbath collection. Vinyl, posters, memorabilia…don’t know…but I’m insanely happy he wanted to play on “Astorolus!!”
We sent the management the song and got the thumbs up. Sometimes you have to aim high. You never know…
Have no idea…It’s not exactly the best Black Sabbath versions ever recorded. But it worked live. Probably should have stayed like that…
Next year marks the 30th anniversary of Tales of Creation. Are there plans to celebrate this album in any way, even though Johan is now with the group?
We have talked about it at every anniversary. We were about to do it with Messiah at one point, maybe 2004, but he wasn’t easy to deal with back then and for some reason it fell apart. It would be fun to do, but now we got a new album on the way next year, so I can’t see us doing a full Tales show. Hopefully some songs from it anyway.
Is there any consideration for performing Epicus Doomicus Metallicus in full either on tour or through select shows outside of Europe?
We’ve done that with Johan a couple of times in the past, and I think there are some shows book in the spring for it. Keep it True [festival] is one of them. Maybe one or two more.
It’s fun to play the Epicus stuff, but I’m also very excited to see how the new album is received and looking forward to play stuff from that one for our fans.
Since the release of Psalms for the Dead, Candlemass have stuck to releasing EPs. Why was a full length album not pursued in recent years and what led you back to this path for The Door to Doom?
I hoped that the EP Death Thy Lover would lead into a full length album, but it was clear that my health wasn’t going to allow it. I don’t think the band was ready for it either. There was a lot of endless, pointless discussions and in the end I just said “sod it.” An EP is a good way to show people that you are alive actually. It doesn’t take more than a weekend to record it and it gives you the promo and attention you want and need.
Eighteen months ago I visited an old friend living in Malta. He’s a big shareholder of a large internet casino. Michael suggested we should team up for a brand new game and I thought it was a brilliant idea. This was just before Metal Casino. We had a bunch of wild ideas for it during those days I spent there. This Maltese adventure lead into the song and game “House of Doom.” It also lead to new energy for writing songs, taking Candlemass one more time into the studio for an album. It took six months to make House of Doom, and it took a year to do The Door to Doom. But it was worth all the work. The album is one of our best!
You’re going to be supporting Ghost in Europe. In an era where new heavy metal is largely based in extremity, Ghost are quite the opposite. What effect do you think they’ll have on the next generation of metal artists?
Ghost was the first metal band that I know of that combined Mercyful Fate riffs with pop melodies. I think they are totally genius! Great songs…great harmonies — it’s not easy to put new life into a boring and stale genre like the metal scene. But they did it. And did it in spades too!! Fantastic band!! I’m sure that lots of new interesting bands will follow in their path.
The debut from your other doom band, The Doomsday Kingdom, was released last year. What necessitated the need to write a doom album under a name other than Candlemass?
Since I was sick I wasn’t playing with Candlemeass at that point. I was away for about four years because of being burnt out. So I did the The Doomsday Kingdom thing like music therapy. I totally love that album and it came pretty high in the 10 best albums of 2017 charts. We weren’t planning a new Candlemass album anyway, so it was cool for me to do it. I really liked that freedom of doing an album without no deadline, no band, no label. During the years I was away, I had time to think, and I do question a lot of things that are taken as law in the music business. Hell… I’m fucking questioning the entire music business!
You took some time away from the Candlemass regarding touring. Can we expect to see you on the road in 2018? Maybe in North America?
Well, not one day goes without inquiries about gigs, some I’m sure there will be shows in the States soon. We actually have to say no to a lot of promoters right now. We can’t tour or play every week, people have jobs..but we’ll be very busy next year and I ‘m sure Candlemass will hit the States sooner or later. But first we’ll do Europe, and I think South America is about to be booked as we speak….
That’s a tricky one hahahaha! But I say as I always say it nowadays – Sabbath Bloody Sabbath. Not only the creative peak….also the best metal cover artwork of all time. Period!
Thanks to Leif Edling for the interview. ’The Door to Doom’ will be released in 2019 through Napalm Records. Pre-order the album here and follow Candlemass on Facebook to stay up to date with everything they’re doing.
01. Splendor Demon Majesty 02. Under The Ocean 03. Astorolus – The Great Octopus (feat. Tony Iommi) 04. Bridge Of The Blind 05. Death’s Wheel 06. Black Trinity 07. House Of Doom 08. The Omega Circle
Vibration Machine, Vibratory Polishing Machine – Qilong,https://www.ql-chiiyea.com/