This being the first new album with Messiah back in the band in over 15 years (as crazy as it seems, Messiah’s last time in the studio with Candlemass was 1989’s Tales of Creation, obviously I’m not including the ‘91 and ‘03 live albums), I was more than a little concerned. Reunion albums always make me nervous. Okay, Halford rejoining Judas Priest was a good move for all, and I was happy to see Bruce and Adrian back with Iron Maiden (although the reformed IM has yet to top the work of Bruce’s “solo” band’s last two or three albums). And no one was happier than I was to see Schmier rejoin Destruction a few years ago. But despite successful reunions like those, just one bad one can sour a person on the very concept. Take Exodus for example. Tempo of the Damned had one good track on it, “Was Is My Shepherd,” and the rest were just varying levels of embarrassment. I won’t even mention their new plastic abortion. Now that I think about it, maybe these reunions are more often than not okay. I even sort of like that new Obituary album. In any case, I should have never worried about Candlemass. With Messiah back on vocals, all is right with the world (of this band) again. I was just annihilated from the first seconds of the disc-opener, the Thrashy “Black Dwarf.” The Doomier “Seven Silver Keys” followed, leaving me stunned in its wake, and even on my first spin, before I listened to the rest of the album, I knew that this would be an all-time classic. The band’s traditional blending of Doom with Thrashier parts is as perfect here as it has ever been. Occasionally in reviews I mention a couple stand-out songs from the album in question, and I was all set to do that here. But as I thought about it, I found it nearly impossible to narrow down the list. Maybe the haunting “Seven Silver Keys” would be my pick, but all the songs are just as amazing in different ways. It is my understanding that some pressings (perhaps the digipak? Maybe only in some countries?) have a bonus track called “Mars and Volcanos.” You’ll want to be certain to get that version.
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