Candle – The Keeper’s Curse (Fighter Records)Friday, 16th February 2018
How many times do we hear musicians who perform one style of metal get the creative bug to start another act in a completely different genre? That’s the case here for Candle – as drummer Markus Janis picked up his guitar and joins guitarist Christian Kanto who both perform in the death metal band Corrosive Carcass to start this band in 2015. Building out the lineup to a quintet, a four-song demo release led to a deal with Fighter Records, bringing us to The Keeper’s Curse debut full-length. Aiming to intertwine the classic feel of heavy metal with atmosphere and theatrical textures, this record evokes a European period during the 1980’s where everything seemed possible, rearing back for high screams or developing a doom nuance when necessary if it suits the needs of each song.
Keyboard aspects that signal funeral/church bells weave in and out of the opening “Intro” and “Light at the End” – sending the headspace back to early Savatage, King Diamond, and the almighty Candlemass – but never dominating the electric riffs and lively rhythm section action that can be progressive and intricate. Check out some of the Maiden-esque sweeps during the instrumental sections of highlight “Frozen with Fear”, the drumming of Jorma Pihlajainen rock solid against the spider web-oriented twin axe and bass action before moving into this killer classically-fueled doom transition. The band prefer to be in a mid-tempo to slightly doom-like veneer throughout, with plenty of melody and heaviness throughout – the tones and production even featuring many touches that keep the sound primitive or as natural as possible (thankfully no digitized snare, as well as separation between the guitar and bass tones).
Ex-Blazon Stone and current Assaultery vocalist Erik Nordkvist leads Candle on the microphone front – and his dynamic, multi-pronged attack has its positive and negative aspects for sure throughout the record. He goes from lower to higher register in the blink of an eye (check out “No Peace for My Soul” as a clear example) but doesn’t sound convincing in some of the upper range, almost as if squeezing out a soaring note that appears to be a tad pitchy. Many will enjoy the diversity, and others will probably reach for the off switch – so this is an area of concern that Candle may wish to reign in for the follow-up. At nine tracks in a reasonable 43 minutes, The Keeper’s Curse takes the Dio-era Sabbath/King Diamond-like musical framework, adds a bit of Candlemass/Iron Maiden potency to the mix, and develops something that many older metalheads will dig.