In particular I'm quite fond of their two late 90s albums, which musically speaking have scant resemblance to their trademarked name. Other than they are bonecrushingly heavy of course. For example, I quite like the use of synthesizers during this era of the band. From the 13th Sun deviates from its predecessor though, and the album is what everyone else says it is (including Candlemass themselves) - an homage to Black Sabbath. The album opens up perfectly with a catchy riff-ramic 'Droid' before launching into the album's masterpiece 'Tot'. Taking 'Black Sabbath' (the song) as a base, they move forward the concept to a whole new level. The bells sound like Notre Dame on Sunday morning, and the foreboding atmosphere is so thick and heavy, one can barely move. Then it bludgeons you deep into the ground over and over. And then about 2/3rds through, the track opens up into a frenzied pace with synthesizers panning side to side, for truly an awe inspiring experience. In my estimation, this is one of Candlemass' finest moments (and the band have quite a few). 'Elephant Star' follows and is a bit too straightforward to make note of. 'Blumma Apt' is another great and varied heavy track and then... ear fatigue sets in.
It's as if all their great ideas were front-loaded, and everything that follows is more or less the same. I tried to compartmentalize each track on its own, but the familiarity was too obvious to ignore. It's a problem most metal bands have, and unfortunately Candlemass fell victim as well. Even the promising looking 9+ minute 'Cyclo-F' disappoints once you've realized it's padded with a drum solo.
Overall, I still enjoy the heck out of this title, the disappointment only reflecting the auspicious opening. Worth the purchase for 'Tot' alone, but everything here is good, just not great.
CD: 1999 Music for Nations (UK)