I’m sure that some would say that without Messiah Marcolin singing, this just isn’t Candlemass. And when I heard that he’d left the band again a few years ago, I assumed that the remaining guys would just give it up. I’m glad they didn’t. Former (?) Solitude Aeturnus vocalist Robert Lowe, whose voice I’ve always liked, has been a good replacement so far, and did an amazing job on his debut with the band, 2007’s King of the Grey Islands. The follow-up later in ‘07 was the live 20 Year Anniversary Party, which featured different singers on many of the tracks, and didn’t satisfy my curiosity about how well Lowe could handle the old songs live. Last year’s Death Magic Doom was a slight letdown, but the Candlemass bar is set pretty fucking high. And now, at last, I finally get to hear Robert’s interpretations of the classics, which he typically handles very well, although his voice waivers occasionally, and he sometimes lets a little too much Texas redneck out in his between-song bullshit. He’s noticeably better in the studio than live, but that may describe a lot of singers. There are two shows on this DVD (plus an interview, photos, and a CD of the Sweden Rock Festival gig, although knowing how Nuclear Blast does business, I wouldn’t swear that the CD comes with all versions, so caveat emptor). The 2009 Sweden Rock Festival set is certainly the better looking of the two, as the second one, No Sleep ‘til Athens (also from 2009), looks soft, as if it were recorded onto VHS, or heavily compressed. The audio is good for both performances, but 5.1 for the Sweden show alone, with the Athens gig being stereo-only, to match its inferior video quality, I guess. The Rock Festival set ends with an enjoyable cover of Rainbow’s “Kill the King,” I suppose as a sort of tribute to the late Ronnie James Dio. For the Athens show, the guys unearthed “Tears,” from Tales of Creation, which I’ve never heard them perform live before, so I really wish that recording had been higher quality. I do have another complaint, perhaps a minor one: In the song “A Sorcerer’s Pledge,” Lowe sings “He drank the wine of the virgin to be reborn.” It’s not “wine,” it’s “blood.” I know that another line in the song is “Blood is his wine,” but please pull your head out of your asshole. Don’t change the lyrics and I won’t call you a scab singer who’s keeping Messiah’s microphone warm for him.
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