Let’s start things off with song number two, “Sleeping Giant.” It’s got a fairly strong swagger at its heart, but…are you sure that giant’s sleeping?
Perhaps I already hit my quota regarding this theme with the comic I recently dropped, but I’m fairly certain I won’t be the only screwball who walks away from this doomy tip o’ the cap to the villain in Jack and the Beanstalk with a troublesome visual of a giant jackin’ his beanstalk.
He’s supposed to be yawning, I get it, but I thought that giant was supposed to be sleeping. What a strange thing to have cropping up throughout an entire song.
Regardless, at least the big fella finally hits the jackpot by the end, so he’ll probably be sound asleep any moment now. And if plucking his banjo doesn’t do the trick, the two songs that follow “Sleeping Giant” might just be drab enough to coax a nice long nap. Apart from some fairly interesting vocals toward its close, “Sinister N Sweet” doesn’t do much to wake up this sleepy EP (SleEPy?) And the instrumental “The Goose” has so much humdrum tacked to its crux that it might actually benefit from the sounds of a goose jilling off, and that, my friends, is a sentence I never thought I’d type.
Luckily, the day is saved by the title track. “Death Thy Lover” is good’n, folks. There’s a really nice bit of melodic guitars that vaults the golden chorus to even loftier heights, and the transition into its quieter midpoint does a great job of showcasing the vocal talents of Mats Levén. Candlemass made a wise choice with this guy. He’s from a similar school as the previously departed Robert Lowe, but grittier, and he absolutely nails it live, which is something the band has obviously decided to stress in recent years.
But ultimately, an EP like Death Thy Lover unmasks the following grisly truth: A Paint-By-Numbers approach to your studio material can be detrimental to any band, but it’s particularly lethal when it comes to doom, thanks in a large part to its prevailing “Plod is Law” edict. Classics aside (of which Candlemass has contributed at least three – four, if you count Ancient Dreams), releases such as Vast Oceans Lachrymose, In the Rectory… or Epicurean Mass are fairly rare, and some would argue that the last time these Swedes truly hit the target dead center was with their triumphant self-titled revival album back in 2005. Death Thy Lover ain’t likely to change that stance, which might be one of the reasons the band has decided to stop releasing studio material. That’s also worth noting: This EP is intended to be a celebration of the band’s 30th year, not a winky-wink indicating that they’ve decided to start releasing records again.
Is Death Thy Lover necessary for your collection? If the title track makes you swoon enough, sure. Maybe you’re a true Candleconnoisseur who needs EVERYTHING. Have at it. Or Hell, maybe you’re just morbidly curious what it might sound like to walk in on a giant cleaning his clarinet.
As an appropriate aside, if the prospect of a by-the-numbers Candlemass EP bums you out, consider looking into The Doomsday Kingdom, the project Leif Edling’s spearheading while taking a hiatus from touring. The recently released Never Machine Demo has the unmistakable Edling touch, but it’s raw, heavy and most importantly, interesting. I never would’ve guessed that hauling in the talents of Wolf vocalist Niklas Stålvind would work in doom, but it does. Plus, that closing track featuring Leif on vocals is quite nice.
Machine Demo EP 12″ by The Doomsday Kingdom&lt;/a&gt;