Review: Candlemass ‘Sweet Evil Sun’

As the godfathers of epic doom metal, Candlemass defined the genre with releases such as Epicus Doomicus Metallicus (1986) and Nightfall (1987). Through their evil riffs, crushing rhythmic attack and dramatic vocals, they changed the landscape of metal worldwide. Reunited with outstanding original vocalist Johan Längquist, the band, around founding member Leif Edling, delivers the new full-length album, Sweet Evil Sun, out November 18th, 2022 via Napalm Records.

Candlemass 'Sweet Evil Sun'

When I originally posted that I’d be writing about Sweet Evil Sun, one of my Facebook friends had commented that ‘they’re at a point where their acolytes are outdoing them.’ I thought about that comment as I listened to the albums I own (Epicus Doomicus Metallicus, Death Thy Lover and House Of Doom) and then this new one. I quickly realized that he’s totally right in saying that, as this is a very middle of the road type of album. Sure, it has some cool songs, but it didn’t pack the punch that I was hoping it would, but let’s get into the highlights of the album.

Sweet Evil Sun is one of the tracks that will turn heads, and cause people to turn their stereos up. The guitar tones are metallic, the riff is doom laden, and the vocals are some of the best on the album. I do wish that this one was a bit longer, as 3:40 didn’t seem to be enough for me.

Angel Battle is up next and is my preferred song on this record. As with the title track, the riffs are solid, and that guitar tone is exactly what I want to hear from this band. I didn’t care much for the spoken word piece at the end of the track, but only because I thought they could have gotten someone who’d have performed it better.

The guitar tones are metallic, the riff is doom laden, and the vocals are some of the best on the album…

Scandinavian Gods is one of the two available singles, the other being Sweet Evil Sun. I really love what they did here, and it stands out amongst the rest of these songs by being different. The lyrical content is something that anyone can relate with, Leif Edling was quoted as saying that,

Scandinavian Gods is Slayer meets Queen and Judas Priest! It’s about heritage and future and the fact that it is sometimes absolutely necessary to leave, or at least doubt, your old gods. It’s about the hardship in this, and the irony in the fact that you see yourself being drawn back to them over and over again, into these black circles and the forgetfulness of the past.’ He added, ‘Where do we wanna be? What shall we believe in? Do we need them to build a better future?’

The Judas Priest vibe is right there for all to hear, but the Slayer and Queen sounds are much more subtle. I hear a little Slayer in the riffs, and the song structure did bring to mind Queen’s Another One Bites the Dust. When Death Sighs is also a cool track, yet it, and most of these songs, have a feeling of sameness that permeates them. It doesn’t make them bad, it just makes the fifty-three-minute runtime feel a bit tedious at times.

Candlemass are one of the originators of this style, but now they seem to be following the pack instead of leading it, and while this works for them, it’s not working for some of their long-time fans. Does that mean that the album is bad? No, but don’t expect anything ground-breaking from it either. However, you should go check out Sweet Evil Sun no matter what I think of it, as music is subjective, and not everyone will agree with this review. So, head out there and see what they’ve done for yourselves. Enjoy!

Label: Napalm Records
Band Links: Official | Facebook | Bandcamp | Instagram

Scribed by: Tom Hanno