Candlemass - King of the Grey Islands (Nuclear Blast Records) - Back
"King of the Grey Islands" marks the start of a new era for Candlemass. Messiah Marcolin and his mournful operatic croon are gone, replaced by the equally skilled, if less dramatic, Robert Lowe. Lowe’s work in Solitude Aeturnus certainly lends credibility to the choice, but would the change cause Candlemass to loose the momentum that they had built with 2005's self titled release?

"King of The Grey Islands" is mountain of an album, with slow crushing riffs assaulting the listener like an avalanche of molten lead. While this album retains much of the classic Candlemass sound, that sound has been expanded and tweaked just a bit. This is mainly noticeable in the song structures, which tend to be slightly more complex and busy than on previous albums. Tempo changes from slow to mid-paced are more frequent during the songs. A few, "Demonia 6" being a good example, simply have a different feel than anything the band has ever done. The production is thick and dense, combining with the more complex song structures to give the album an almost claustrophobic feel.

Robert Lowe’s vocals fit the album very well, he showcases his versatility, demonstrating the ability to both fit his voice into small spaces in the music, and hold a note allowing his voice to sore over the music when necessary. Lowe will never be mistaken for Messiah Marcolin but he is a far more versatile vocalist, and his style is a good fit for this album. Any questions about Lowe’s ability to perform the classics are laid to rest with the two bonus tracks on the digipak edition. Lowe capably handles both "Solitude" and "At The Gallows End," placing his own stamp on the songs, while retaining most their original feel.

While not quite on par with the bands essential early albums, "King Of The Grey Islands" is probably as good as 2005's self titled album, but for different reasons. The S/T album was an easier sell, sticking closer to the bands roots and offering a couple of songs that really jumped out at you, with opener "Black Dwarf" becoming an instant doom metal classic. "King of The Grey Islands" sees an already reestablished band trying, and largely succeeding to push the boundaries of their sound. The overall level of the compositions is, in my opinion, superior to those on the S/T release, but the stunning high points are lacking. This is a fine addition to the Candlemass catalog and should please old and new fans alike.

Rating:
89

Reviewed By: Garett F.