CANDLEMASS are a cornerstone of the global doom metal scene. Having emerged in 1984 from Stockholm, they’ve been around long enough to solidify a reputation as masters of their craft. Green Valley (Live In Lockdown) sees the band revisit some favourites from their lengthy back catalogue. These tracks include tracks from the acclaimed Epicus Doomicus Metallicus and Astorolus.
Green Valley was live streamed to fans and as such sounds radically different to most live albums. There are no hoards of screaming fans in the background and the audio quality is substantially clearer than if this had been recorded on stage. There are flaws of course, occasionally a note will be flubber or a beat occasionally missed but this brings with it a special kind of charm.
We open with Well Of Souls from 1986’s Epicus Doomicus Metallicus and I might be committing heresy here but I prefer this version to the original. There’s a tightness that is now present that can only come with thirty five years of playing as a band but the nature of the recording adds a little rawness too.
Astorolus originally featured BLACK SABBATH’s Tony Iommi on guitar, and I must admit that this version does feel lacking without him. Don’t mistake me, I still think it’s a great song but having someone like Iommi lend his talents to the song really made a difference. The song remains chilled but epic, heavy but in the oddest of ways feeling kind of peaceful. If you like songs about giant octopuses then this is the song for you.
We end on Solitude and Demon’s Gate. Solitude remains a mournful classic that really benefits from the reduced levels of production. It feels like the sentiment of the lyrics matches the tone perfectly, and I think that can only happen when you have one chance to record. The tiredness and likely the stress of performance adds another incredible ingredient to this song.
Demon’s Gate is the final track and is labelled as a soundcheck. As you can imagine some of the issues were being fixed while this was recorded so it’s not the best song on the album with regards to engineering technicalities but it’s still fun. It appears here without the synthesizer and monologue introduction which works but I think I’d only prefer it if I hadn’t heard the original release.
This is a fun album, it excels in some unexpected ways and suffers in others. I think when the time comes for gigs to make a reappearance, this show will be one to go and see but I can’t recommend this album to a new fan. It doesn’t capture the atmosphere of a live show or have the production values of a studio album. Let me be clear it is not the bands fault. It is not the engineers or anybody involved in the making of this release’s fault. The album suffers for neither being one thing or the other. That said, there are some fun reworkings of classic songs here that long time fans should check out and will probably have a lot of fun listening to.
Words: Jacob McCrone
Green Valley (Live In Lockdown) is out now.
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