words by Jason Ellis
There are few bands more responsible for my straight free-fall into metal dorkdom such as Candlemass. The first time I heard “At the Gallows End” on The Metalshop and when I eventually lucked into finding that song on one of the ‘Best Of Metal Blade’ comps, it sealed my fate. There are few bands that I think everyone just universally loves (or will when they hear them) and Candlemass is definitely one of them.
And while I wanted to equate the band’s amazing sound, songwriting and aesthetic to one of the long-hairs in the band, I later came to learn that nearly eternal short-hair Leif Edling. Besides not having long hair, but writing some of the greatest metal to ever enter the planes of existence (which seems near impossible, if you think about it), but has consistently written standard bearing doom metal since the Epicus Doomicus Metallicus debut. While most bands barely make it through a decade, let alone vocal changes, especially one on the level of losing Messiah Marcolin, Elding and co. keep putting out dark, powerful and relevant doom metal in a field that is maybe getting a little saturated. The creators are still at the top of the mountain. I was given the good fortune of being able to speak with one of the most influential songwriters in the last thirty years. Leif Edling is one of the few people I would become a dorky fan over, and I had a chance…
There has been a definite resurgence and interest in doom over the last few years. And with that, also a lot more respect and praise for what Candlemass has done. Also seems that most of the praise is for your past efforts, with much less going towards your current efforts, and in my opinion, all of your current efforts stand up resoundingly with your classics. Do you ever feel that your more recent material sometimes gets overshadowed by what you once did?
No, not really. We’ve had a lot of praise for the new releases…over here in Europe, anyway. The ‘white album’ sold in buckets and we got a Grammy for it. Lots of people at the shows. In fact, all three previous albums have been Soundcheck winners in many big European magazines, so I think we’ve had enough praise for those albums. And, it’s of course, also great that people still talk about Epicus and Nightfall. I’m glad I could contribute.
The Robert Lowe era is definitely entrenched now in the band’s history. And I, myself, was excited when he was announced as the replacement for Messiah. He adds a different dynamic to the band but it still remains definitely Candlemass. How do you feel the reaction to Lowe has been this far?
Fantastic! It was a bit difficult for him at first, but he has grown into the band and on Psalms I think he delivers his best performance, ever!
Psalms of the Dead is your first record for Napalm. As a label, they were often typecast (and somewhat correctly) for having only heavily orchestrated or operatic female-fronted goth-y doom bands. So, is there any of this on the new record? What has the relationship with Napalm been like so far?
I didn’t know much about Napalm before we signed with them, but, they are a very interesting label, I think. On their way up. And, they sign cool bands like Monster Magnet, Tiamet and Moonspell!
Besides Candlemass, you also do Krux and your solo stuff. Will there be another solo LP? Also, all your projects are pretty miserableand doom-y. Are you always bummed? Besides doom, what else do you do?
Music is my life! Everything I do has something to do with music. I don’t hang with people that are not interested in music. Sure, I can follow what happens in the Champions League soccer tournament, but music is the big thing for me. I’m sure there will be another Krux album and somewhere along the line I would like to record a Swedish singer/songwriter album. That would be a challenge.
There are a mess of bands right now aping, to various degrees. Some do it well, some seem slightly misguided. Have you heard anything lately that has impressed you?
You guys seem to be one of the few bands that did a reunion that has weathered the current climate well — your records remain strong, and not in a ‘strong for a buncha old guys’ sort of way. When you came back in ’01, the world needed you back. You’ve definitely keep up with your contemporaries. How does the whole reunion bug seem to strike you? Also, with the exception of the seven year layoff from the band, it’s still 4/5 the same lineup. Has that been a challenge at all to keep together?
Absolutely. It’s been a bumpy ride, but the four of us really like each other and love the music we do, so we will continue to do live shows for as long as we enjoy it. We’re not 30 anymore, but I think we still do interesting music and stand up well if you compare us to younger bands and pretty much every band that reforms today. And from what it looks now, Psalms For the Dead is getting great reviews, so you’re not getting rid of us just yet!
One of the songs that has sealed my lifelong love of metal was hearing “At the Gallows End” on the syndicated radio show Metalshop when I was 11. Shortly after, I found a Metal Blade comp that had the song on it in a cut-out bin and bought it exclusively for that song and the Trouble songs. But, due to that track, I still have the tape. Do you realize the impact of your songs? And what would you say is your favorite Candlemass track?
So many songs that I love, but it’s “Demon’s Gate” is a favorite and also “Under the Oak” and “Prophet” and “Waterwitch” from the new album. That’s pretty cool!
One thing that has always struck me about you is that you never, ever had long hair. Why is this?
Had long hair before C-mass, but had to cut it because of a job I got just before the release of Epicus. But, I had it really long in the 90’s and occasionally in C-mass, lately. Think most people over 40 with long hair look ridiculous, but it works on stage, heheh.
From what I read, Psalms Of the Dead is going to be the last Candlemass record. Is this the end of the line for you guys? Does this have to be the end?
It’s not the end. We will continue to play live for years to come. But, we can’t spend almost a year to make an album. Too much effort and it’s better to concentrate on the live shows, before we start to release semi-good albums. Think it’s a good decision. End it while we still have our respect and integrity intact!
Tune into WMSE’s Team Metal every Wednesday night from 9 p.m. – 12 a.m. to get more metal goodness from host, Jason Ellis. WMSE.org to stream live (or in the archives) or tune in at 91.7 FM on your radio dial.