Candlemass is a doom metal band formed in Stockholm, Sweden in 1984. Candlemass arose from the earlier Nemesis outfit belonging to bassist Leif Edling and guitarist Christian Weberyd. Prior to the dissolvement of the group, Nemesis had released the highly praised ‘Day Of Retribution’ album in 1984. Debuting Candlemass on the tape trading circuit with the four song ‘Witchcraft’ demo in 1984, featuring a line-up of Edling, Weberyd and drummer Mats Ekström, and a second demo that November, the band promptly signed to the French Black Dragon label. Having added former A.T.C. guitarist Mats Björkman (a.k.a. ‘Mappe’) the band began recording what would become the ‘Epicus, Doomicus, Metallicus’ debut at Thunderload Studios with Ragne Wahlquist, frontman for Heavy Load, manning the desk.
During the recording of the album Christian Weberyd opted to leave and by the time it was released the group’s newly acquired vocalist, Johan Lanquist, a former member of Jonah Quizz, and drummer Mats Ekström, had also departed. Still, the album, emerging in June 1986, considerably raised the band’s profile and impressed many critics with a penchant for specialising in grandiose, Doom laden Metal dirges that, at times, were hideously depressing but always exceptionally heavy. With Doom being scarce on the Metal landscape in 1986 many reviewers simply tagged the band as BLACK SABBATH clones but record buyers soon put this assumptions aside, recognising the band as an original force.
Having taken well over a year to put a new line-up together, and having to pass on the offer of a tour with Black Dragon label mates HEIR APPARANT and SAVAGE GRACE, Edling, with Björkman still retained, settled on new drummer Jan Lindh. Also joining the fold were ex-MACBETH and HEXAGON guitarist Lars Johansson and erstwhile MERCY vocalist Eddie ‘Messiah’ Marcolin (real name Jan Alfredo Marcolin). The latter, a rather portly chap, cut a strange figure on stage, choosing to wear a monk’s habit, although his remarkable, near Operatic, vocal style quickly became the band’s trademark. In March 1987 this fresh unit demoed up two tracks, ‘Bewitched’ and ‘Battle Cry’.
Having split from Black Dragon CANDLEMASS enrolled the help of former Shades Records man Dave Constable in a management capacity and, by the end of 1987 CANDLEMASS had recorded a brand new album, ‘Nightfall’, which was issued that November through the newly established Axis label
Unfortunately, CANDLEMASS had to postpone their debut show in Britain, pulling out of a scheduled support slot to KING DIAMOND at London’s Hammersmith Odeon in November 1987 due to Johansson breaking his arm. CANDLEMASS finally appeared on British shores at the end of March the following year with a three date tour, comprising two London Marquee shows and a gig in Birmingham. CANDLEMASS had created quite a buzz with ‘Nightfall’ both in Britain and Europe and, following their successful appearance at the Dynamo festival later that year several record companies put in bids for their signatures. However, the band remained loyal to Axis, who changed their name to Active for legal reasons, with the albums being issued in America through Metal Blade. The group rounded out a magnificent year by supporting SLAYER in Norway and Sweden after original act NUCLEAR ASSAULT had pulled out.
The band’s third album, November 1988’s ‘Ancient Dreams’, was more successful yet, even denting the North American national Billboard charts. Regrettably under produced, with guitar grunt being particularly diluted, ‘Ancient Dreams’ nonetheless hosted such monolithic menhirs of metal as ‘The Bells Of Acheron’ and ‘Mirror Mirror’. CD variants included an additional track, namely a BLACK SABBATH medley moulding together ‘Symptom Of The Universe’, ‘Sweet Leaf"’ ‘Sabbath Bloody Sabbath’, ‘Into The Void’, ‘Electric Funeral’, ‘Supernaut’, ‘Black Sabbath’. To capitalize on their achievements to date, a live show in the band’s native Stockholm, at the Fryshuset on June 9th, was recorded and released as ‘Candlemass Live’ in 1990. UK and US editions, on Music For Nations and Metal Blade Records respectively, featured different cover art. Its studio follow-up, ‘Tales Of Creation’ released in 1989 and co-produced by former GRAND SLAM guitarist Mats Lindfors, found the band working harder than ever on the live circuit with a full European tour as headliners before hitching up with KING DIAMOND to tour Europe once more.
The archive NEMESIS album ‘Day Of Retribution’ was re-released through Active Records at the height of CANDLEMASS’ fame during 1990 with the addition of bonus tracks ‘Blackstone Wielder’ and ‘Demons Gate’. These songs featured on the very first CANDLEMASS demo recorded in 1985 featuring a line-up of band leader Edling, guitarist Mats Björkman, second guitarist Klas Bergwall and drummer Mats Ekström.
The train came off the rails somewhat with the departure of their vocal and focal point Messiah Marcolin, although the big man was never quite able to match the profile he had in the ranks of CANDLEMASS on a journey through two albums with MEMENTO MORI and then forming STILLBORN. Initially the band pulled in Johan Lanquist, the ex-CANDLEMASS singer from the debut ‘Epicus, Doomicus, Metallicus’, but this union lasted just one rehearsal tryout. After lengthy auditions throughout 1992 ex-TALK OF THE TOWN and SPEEDY GONZALES singer Thomas Vikström landed the job to record ‘Chapter VI’. Vikström had also fronted 80s Glam act OCTAGON under the pseudonym ‘Tommy Senseless’. However, CANDLEMASS fragmented soon afterwards, with Leif Edling forming the experimental ABSTRAKT ALGEBRA with former TREAT and SWEDISH EROTICA vocalist Mats Leven.
Johansson teamed up with VENI DOMINE vocalist Fredrik Ohlson to form a Metal project titled ZOIC in 1995, which resulted in an album released the following year. Thomas Vikström, meantime, featured as guest vocalist on the 1996 album by BRAZEN ABBOT, titled ‘Live And Learn’.
Strangely, in 1997 CANDLEMASS chose to return to the fray in rather odd circumstances. It transpired that Leif Edling had gone into the studio to record a projected second effort for ABSTRAKT ALGEBRA, but as recording progressed a name switch to CANDLEMASS was felt to be more the order of the day in terms of how the music was shaping. The 1997 line-up of the band thus comprised Edling alongside ex-GONE vocalist Björn Flodquist, former CARCASS and ARCH ENEMY guitarist Mike Amott (who also touted his trade with ARMADEDDON and SPIRITUAL BEGGARS), ex-BRICK guitarist Patrick and ABSTRAKT ALGEBRA’s drummer Jejo Percovich. Erstwhile EUROPE man Ian Haugland also guested on drums.
CANDLEMASS returned with the primitive sounding ‘Dactys Glomerata’ in April 1998, after which the band pulled in guitarist Mats Stahl. The band delved even further back into the primeval 70’s Rock soup for 1999 album ‘From The 13th Sun’, the album even including a drum solo. Messiah Marcolin forged a union with CAUTERIZER and BLOODSTONE guitarist Michael Samuelsson and keyboard player Peter Moore entitled REQUIEM, issuing a three track demo.
The classic CANDLEMASS line-up would be tempted into a reunion invitation for the 2002 ‘Sweden Rocks’ festival. The reunited band, which featured vocalist Messiah Marcolin, bassist Leif Edling, guitarists Mats Björkman and Lars Johansson with drummer Jan Lindh debuted at the ‘Black Lucia’ Christmas party held by ‘Close Up’ magazine in Stockholm on December 13th 2001. Meantime the newly created Powerline label would re-release the first four classic CANDLEMASS albums. Also issued would be a collection of demos entitled ‘The Black Heart Of Candlemass’ and credited simply to LEIF EDLING.
The band would put in a long overdue UK performance at the London Mean Fiddler venue in Mid July, sponsored by TotalRock radio, the Swedes were supported by a strong cast including Martin Walkyier’s RETURN TO THE SABBAT, DEVOLVED, THE DUKES OF NOTHING and expatriated Chileans CRIMINAL. The return of CANDLEMASS would also be marked with the launch of the DVD ‘Candlemass Documents Of Doom’, issued in November and comprising live footage from a gig in Fryhuset during 1990. A further release was signalled with news of a double live album ‘Doomed For Live – Reunion 2002′ through the GRM Music Group.
It would be learned that behind the scenes Edling had been forging another project band in league with his former ABSTRAKT ALGEBRA colleague Mats Leven. Billed as KRUX and having laid down a debut album for 2002 release through the Mascot label Edling’s venture also saw contributions from the ENTOMBED rhythm section of drummer Peter Stjärnvind and bassist Jörgen Sandstrom, although the latter would switch to guitar. Other guitarists involved in the sessions included Nicko Elgstrand of TERRA FIRMA and Fredrik Åkesson from TALISMAN.
Yet another CANDLEMASS spin off, C.R.A.N.K., would witness a union of guitarist Mats Björkman with the LION’S SHARE rhythm section of bassist Pontus Egberg and drummer Johan Koleberg as well as singer Alex Swerdh and guitarist Ulf Larsson of the KISS cover band KYSS.
It would emerge in March of 2004 that the CANDLEMASS pairing of lead guitarist Lars Johansson and drummer Jan Lindh had forged a new band venture billed as CREOZOTH in alliance with X-PLODE vocalist Michael Storck and bassist the OZ and RED FUN credited bassist Tobbe Moen.
CANDLEMASS, recording a two song demo of ‘Witch’ and ‘Born In A Tank’ in August of 2003 would put in live show at the Cologne ‘Popkomm’ music industry convention that same month. However, a posting on the CANDLEMASS website in May of 2004 announced "We are truly sorry to inform you that CANDLEMASS have disbanded!" Despite this salutary news some good news came with an impending tribute album set to feature OPETH, THE HELLACOPTERS, THE HAUNTED, CATHEDRAL, GRAND MAGUS, KRUX, SATYRICON and TIMO RAUTIANINEN & TRIO NISKALAUKAUS.
GMR Music announced a compilation entitled ‘Essential Doom’ for 2005, this collection featuring an unreleased song entitled ‘Witches’, a demo laid down in August of 2003, as well as a bonus DVD featuring video footage of the band’s performance at the ‘Rock Hard’ festival in Germany in 2003.
Despite the announcement of the group’s farewell in May, CANDLEMASS duly issued another press statement in early November stating that they were to enter Stockholm’s Polar studios that same month in order to record a twentieth anniversary album. Apparently this rapid resurrection had been sparked by the musicians jamming through ‘Samarithan’ and ‘Solitude’ at Mats Björkman’s wedding in August, prompting the compiling of a three track demo of ‘Black Dwarf’ and ‘Spellbreaker’ and ‘Witches’. It would also be learnt that CANDLEMASS had tested the waters with former BLACK SABBATH singer TONY MARTIN on some demo recordings, although this proposed union had not worked out.
CANDLEMASS announced their signature to Nuclear Blast Records in January 2005. A new album would be accompanied by a slew of limited edition 7" singles released through the Vinyl Maniacs label including titles such as ‘Solitude’ / ‘Crystal Ball’ and ‘At The Gallow’s End’ / ‘Samarithan’. That same month a notable Finnish re-interpretation of the classic ‘Solitude’ was released by SWALLOW THE SUN featuring REVEREND BIZARRE vocalist Albert Magus.
Upon its release in May 2005 ‘Candlemass’ entered the national Swedish album charts at no. 7. In outside activity, Messiah Marcolin put in a guest vocal appearance on German Thrash act DESTRUCTION’s ‘Inventor Of Evil’ album. Further product came with ‘Curse Of Candlemass’, a DVD issued through Escapi Music documenting the band’s Stockholm’s Klubben in November 2003.
CANDLEMASS Summer festival dates included appearances at the Sölvesborg ‘Sweden Rock’ show, Spain’s ‘Vega Rock’ event, Norway’s ‘Inferno’ festival, Germany’s ‘Wacken Open Air’ and ‘Bang Your Head’ festivals and the Italian ‘Iron Fest’. European touring scheduled for October was to witness a hook up with CATHEDRAL and GRAND MAGUS. However, these dates, despite shows being announced, fell through. In their stead, CANDLEMASS revealed plans to tour with DESTRUCTION and Finland’s DEATHCHAIN in December. The first leg of dates would be opened by Belgians AFTER ALL with the latter half supported by German act PERZONAL WAR. However, Mats Björkman missed gigs in Gothenburg, Malmö and Osnabrück, being forced out due to "family reasons", leaving CANDLEMASS to persevere as a quartet.
In late April 2006 Messiah Marcolin quit, declaring he had no intentions of returning. However, shortly afterward the other band members put up an official posting stating they were confident Marcolin, who they believed was suffering from "severe pre-recording psychosis", was to record the album tracks.
In September Nuclear Blast Records announced it had finally come to an agreement with Messiah Marcolin to sing on the album. That same month, on the 4th, Mappe Björkman started a parallel career as a restaurant owner, opening his ‘De Lyckliga DDe Lyckliga D’Rarna’ (The Happy Lunatics) establishment in Borås.
The uncertainty surrounding Messiah Marcolin’s position was brought to a close on October 23rd when the band put out an official statement saying "You have heard the rumours and it is with a heavy heart we must make this official. The band have tried to solve the situation several times, but Messiah cannot be persuaded to sing on the new album. His attitude and demands are way too unreasonable."
SOLITUDE AETURNUS singer Robert Lowe joined the ranks of CANDLEMASS in January 2007. The band performed a momentous 20th anniversary concert at Stockholm’s Kolingsborg on March 31st. As well as marking the live debut for Robert Lowe the show also featured erstwhile CANDLEMASS singers Johan Langquist and Tomas Vikström plus guests Mikael Åkerfeldt of OPETH. TONY MARTIN of BLACK SABBATH, on the encore ‘Witches’, Mats Levén, of KRUX, THERION and YNGWIE MALMSTEEN and Janne Christoffersson of GRAND MAGUS and SPIRITUAL BEGGARS.
Candlemass have since then released three studio efforts: "King of the Grey Islands", "Lucifer Rising" (an EP) and "Death Magic Doom" which was realeased in April 3, 2009.
Credit/s: Garry Sharpe-Young
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