CANDLEMASS: TALES OF CREATION (1989)
1) The Prophecy; 2) Dark Reflections; 3) Voices In The Wind; 4) Under The Oak; 5) Tears; 6) Into The Unfathomed Tower; 7) The Edge Of Heaven; 8) Somewhere In Nowhere; 9) Through The Infinitive Halls Of Death; 10) Dawn; 11) A Tale Of Creation.
I have just skimmed through the All-Music Guide review for this album, which, under the pressure of some very simple logical analysis, reads as follows: «Every original idea on this album (of which there are two) sucks; most of the non-original ideas on this album rule, but since they are non-original, we have no idea whatsoever about what it is we could say about them, so we will simply say that they are good». That is, actually, quite a respectable attitude; I only wish it were stated more explicitly, so I'm more than happy to re-state it for them.
I will, however, object that the three-minute speed metal instrumental ʽInto The Unfathomed Towerʼ — indeed, the most surprising discovery about the Candlemass catalog so far — is nowhere near as awful as that review would have you believe, comparing it to Yngwie Malmsteen and all. Wedged in between all the slow doom epics, it has a bit of a cocky and tongue-in-cheek attitude to it: «Oh, so maybe you think we only play it slow and sludgy because we can't play it fast and furious? Well, take that, non-believer!» It wouldn't work at all by itself, but here, it gives you a jolt, and anything that gives you a jolt in the middle of a Candlemass album is welcome. Well, okay, not everything. A Celine Dion-style ballad probably wouldn't be welcome. But a kick-ass speed metal interlude — why not?
Formally, the album is a conceptual suite about one human soul's journey through Earth, Heaven, and Hell, which is why we have all those short spoken interludes (ʽThe Prophecyʼ, ʽVoices In The Windʼ, ʽDawnʼ) that are too short anyway to cause any major trouble; also, apparently some of the songs were dug out from the band's very early vaults, including a re-recorded version of ʽUnder The Oakʼ from Epicus (with an even crisper guitar tone, though not necessarily improving on the original as a whole). Overall, though, our appreciation of Candlemass stands in direct proportion to the amount of kick-ass doom riffs on their songs, so here goes:
ʽDark Reflectionsʼ — kick-ass gallop tempo doom riff; ʽUnder The Oakʼ — one of their best songs altogether, but a re-recording all the same; ʽTearsʼ — too slow, too plodding, too operatic, too Marcolin-filled, no kick-ass riff; ʽInto The Unfathomed Towerʼ — see above; ʽThe Edge Of Heavenʼ — kick-ass riff, but comes in too late and goes on for too long (Iommi would never have let a great Sabbath song ride on a single folk-based riff for five minutes); ʽSomewhere In Nowhereʼ — seems like they took the verse riff of ʽElectric Funeralʼ and extended it for the entire duration of the song, bo-o-o-o-o-oring; ʽThrough The Infinitive (sic!) Halls Of Deathʼ — finally, some nice, fast tempo zooping and chugging, gotta love the old ʽChildren Of The Graveʼ vibe; ʽA Tale Of Creationʼ — back to slow, plodding, uninteresting riffage.
Overall, this is not better and not worse than any other «classic period» Candlemass album, I guess, and I do believe that it has a generally strong reputation among metal fans, who like to talk about it as a strong comeback after the relative failure of Ancient Dreams (I see no substantial difference whatsoever, but hey, somebody has to create the illusion that some doom metal albums are notably better than others).