It’s definitely hypnotic
When it comes to turning on a discerned ear to new records from classic acts, it’s important to keep context at the forefront of consideration. In this instance, it’s Swedish epic doom metal pioneers Candlemass, who has made a victorious and Grammy-nominated return with last year’s The Door to Doom. They’re still riding high with that one, with The Pendulum being more of a raw look into their recording process for the aforementioned. Here’s where the context comes in—The Pendulum includes rough cuts of instrumentals and other “demo”-esque tracks. While it is, for the most part, a full-fledged release, there are moments of imperfection and unrefined edges that make it all the more endearing and proving of Candlemass’ sustained talent.
Those moments actually comprise the majority of the EP. Opener “The Pendulum” is the only fully mastered track, with a steady yet robust and chugging riff that leads to a chorus totally befitting of the genre they’ve come to represent. It sonically transposes from its fast thrash-like opening to a slowed yet brutally heavily title section that does doom more than justice—Mats ‘Mappe’ Björkman’s and Lars Johansson entirely dominating on guitars. Now back, original vocalist Johan Längqvist also shows off his chops, surprisingly sounding just as polished and distinguished as he did 30 years ago.
“Snakes of Goliath” succeeds it, employing a deliberately sluggish majesty often definitive of Black Sabbath. Candlemass have actually aligned with Sabbath tendencies frequently throughout their career—a guest spot by Tommy Iommi on The Door to Doom helped drive this home—with low bass barrels thanks to Leif Edling and tempered drumming a la Jan Lindh’s masterfully delicate touch. Of the three songs with lyrics on the EP, it’s the catchiest all around, prompting for swift and controlled headbangs to the rhythm.
The Pendulum’s three instrumental tracks each offer a different perspective on Candlemass as a band musically and culturally. The acoustic guitar of “Sub Zero” harkens on the classic “rock band does ballad” approach, where the acoustics tease at the notion of hefty tones without actually executing them. “Aftershock” provides strictly reverbed guitar tones that feel like they’re going to build up to something, but ultimately don’t. It’s similar to what Sleep does with intention, though Candlemass’ attempts make for more of an inadvertent album bridge. They take a cultural turn with the album’s closer “The Cold Room,” which nostalgically hints to notes of traditional Nordic folk styles. All around, The Pendulum wasn’t meant to be a follow-up record, but a solidification of the fact that Candlemass are back, and they won’t be going anywhere (hopefully) for a while.