Candlemass - King Of The Grey Islands
Nuclear Blast
Doom Metal
10 songs (53:52)
Release year: 2007
Candlemass, Nuclear Blast
Reviewed by Jeff
Major event

One of the most highly anticipated releases of 2007 has to be King Of The Grey Islands by Candlemass. Many fans were not sure what to expect due to the inner turmoil over the last few years between Messiah Marcolin and the rest of Candlemass. It seemed that the rest of the band has spent the last few years trying to tolerate Marcolin's musical demands for the sake of the fans. Marcolin's attitude was quoted as being "undemocratic" and it seemed to be more of a burden than it was worth, finally coming to a head and forcing the rest of the band to search for a new vocalist.

Enter Robert Lowe (no, not the actor!). For those of you not familiar with Lowe, he is the voice of another doom metal outfit known as Solitude Aeturnus. With the musical background and experience Lowe already has in this type of metal genre, it would only seem to be a natural fit for him to take the position as lead vocalist of Candlemass.

King Of The Grey Islands is an album that continues to deliver the ominous and somber styled Black Sabbath like guitar riffs that seem more of a Candlemass trademark these days. Wah-wah effects are used on some guitar parts and the twin harmonizing lead guitar fills are still present. The drumming is as heavy as ever, with a certain anger behind each pounding. The sound of the bass guitar truly provides something apocalyptic and impending. Some keyboards are used but only as an underlying accompaniment to certain areas of the music. They are almost unnoticeable, quickly devoured by the monstrous guitar sound. Of course the biggest change for Candlemass is new vocalist Robert Lowe.

It really took me several listens to appreciate what Candlemass has accomplished here with King Of The Grey Islands . I'm a big fan of Messiah Marcolin's voice and was pissed when I heard he would not be on the new record. I love everything this guy has done, even with Memento Mori. Candlemass was my top album of 2005. There were alot of things that concerned me with regards to King Of The Grey Islands. The biggest one being how Lowe would sound with Candlemass, regardless of his history with Solitude Aeturnus.

The bottom line is that Robert Lowe holds his own very well with Candlemass. While Lowe doesn't have the range or power of Messiah Marcolin, he does have a certain vocal comfort zone that he does not venture out of too often. He does not try to force his singing. He seems to sing more from the throat than the diaphragm, which gives him an almost smokier sound at times. He sounds alot like Johnny Gioeli (Axel Rudi Pell) at times.

As for the songs, I really wasn't blown away at first. But man, this album gets better and better with each spin! Prologue is just a short instrumental played with clean electric guitar sound. Emperor Of The Void is a thunderous assault of double bass drums and straight forward power drumming played at a medium pace. The wah-wah guitar effect is used here too. The chugging guitar riff and chorus of Devil Seed is sure to be imbedded in your mind like a nail to ones coffin! There is also a little bit of organ with vibrato used during the thinly layered guitar chords only to be drowned out by the dynamics of the bigger power chords to follow. The beginning riffs from Of Stars and Smoke sound alot like those used on Seven Silver Keys from Candlemass. Demonia 6 is one of the more up tempo songs that is sure to get you doom dancing! The beginning guitar riff in Clearsight is almost exactly lke the one used on Dark Reflections from Tales of Creation. It has a galloping rhythm section with some nifty drum quad rolls. Embracing The Styx is the most epic song on the album with more time changes than a clock! I like the ending of this song, with the very subtle vocals and acoustic guitars.

I could go on and on and describe the whole album track by track but feel I have given you enough of an idea as to what one can expect. I think it's only fair to leave the readers of this review with some kind of cliffhanger so they have something to look forward to. They can go out and see what the rest of album is like on their own.

For those of you who are Candlemass completists, there is a special edition version with two bonus tracks: At The Gallows End and Solitude. It seems that Candlemass wasted no time in getting Lowe into the studio to give fans an idea of how he would sound singing older material.

I still have to wonder what this album would have sounded like with Messiah Marcolin on vocals. Still, King Of The Grey Islands is a very strong album with Robert Lowe, though I don't feel it is better than the 2005 Candlemass release. It may even surpass some of the other Candlemass releases within the catalog as far as listening playtime.

 

 

Killing Songs :
Emperor Of The Void, Devil Seed, Of Stars And Smoke, Destroyer, Clearsight, Embracing The Styx
Jeff quoted 85 / 100
Adam quoted 90 / 100
Other albums by Candlemass that we have reviewed:
Candlemass - Death Thy Lover (EP) reviewed by Goat and quoted no quote
Candlemass - Psalms For The Dead reviewed by Goat and quoted 90 / 100
Candlemass - Ancient Dreams reviewed by Goat and quoted CLASSIC
Candlemass - Nightfall reviewed by Kyle and quoted CLASSIC
Candlemass - Death Magic Doom reviewed by Adam and quoted 92 / 100
To see all 9 reviews click here
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