By Gruesome Greg
Last year, Candlemass released Death Magic Doom, an album that showed they’re still one of the top epic doom bands going after 25 years, while fully integrating new vocalist Rob Lowe of Solitude Aeturnus into the fold. Ashes to Ashes was recorded on the subsequent tour, capturing the band’s 5 o’clock set at the Sweden Rock Festival, along with a gig in Athens, Greece. The live CD features the 65-minute performance in their home country, and shows that the first three tracks from their latest record (“If I Die,” “Hammer of Doom,” “The Bleeding Baroness”) can hold up alongside classics like “A Sorcerers Pledge” and “Solitude.” Lowe acquits himself well on the Langquist- and Messiah-sung material, and the crowd gives them a warm reception. Their set ends with a Rainbow cover, “Kill the King,” which predated the death of Dio by about a year, yet still displays reverence to the late metal god. RIP.
Presumably, the footage from Sweden Rock was shown on screens at the concert for those too far back to see the stage. Plenty of quick cuts, close-ups on the band members (who all seem to be wearing leather pants), and wide shots of the crowd to say “Yes, there are a lot of people at this shindig.” I never knew that Lars Johansson was a lefty—he plays his Jackson upside-down a la Jimi Hendrix.
In Athens, the band played a full headlining set on a much smaller stage, with a fully-captivated, tightly-packed audience. The production is a two or three-camera affair, with lots of overhead shots. They covered more material from Nightfall and Epicus and another tune off the new one, with the highlight being “Tears,” a deep cut from Tales of Creation. After the first encore, the crowd chanted the name of the song they still wanted to hear until Leif Edling ran out and stage-dived into their midst. And yes, they did play “Solitude” afterwards. The lighting guy made the video hard to watch at times (too many reds), but twas a rawer, more energetic performance all around—from both the band and the film crew.
DVD extras include photographic slideshows of both gigs and a pointless, banal interview that’s inexplicably interspersed with clips from their 20th reunion show. (Oookay…?) Alas, if Candlemass didn’t come to your town (ie Toronto) on their last tour, this package will show ya whatcha