Opeth, Darkthrone, Paradise Lost Members Reflect on CANDLEMASS’s ‘Epicus Doomicus Metallicus’
In honor of doom metal legends’ Candlemass’s full-album performance of their landmark Epicus Doomicus Metallicus LP at Decibel Magazine Metal & Beer Fest: Philly on June 10 (get tickets here!), we gathered underground metal royalty from Opeth, Darkthrone, Paradise Lost and more to share their thoughts on the one of the most enduring recordings in heavy metal history:
Mikael Åkerfeldt (Opeth)
“That album remains one of the great treasures of the scene. And they know it. They could tour that album alone for years and years, and people would still come to hear them play those songs. They are timeless, really. Looking at the track list now sends shivers down my spine. Classic after classic.”
Lord Ahriman (Dark Funeral)
“I lived in northern Sweden, in a small town called Luleå. At that time, I didn’t know many who listened to the same music as me, but luckily, I had a friend who worked at the local record store. And as soon as a metal record came in, he thought I should listen to, he called me. And this album was one of many such phone calls. Epicus Doomicus Metallicus—the ultimate doom record and a timeless classic—is still, to this day, on heavy rotation.”
“From Kolbotn I’d take the bus or train to Oslo to the record stores. I was often looking for longer songs on albums as I liked songs with tempo shifts, slow long parts, Epicness, like the “Pilgrim” song I liked so much by Uriah Heep from their Sweet Freedom album that I got from uncle Stein in late 1974. And in late summer 1986 Candlemass popped up among the vinyl at Rebel Records (Øvre or Nedre Slottsgate, it was not the Rebel Records that became Elm Street Rock Cafe), with its six songs of considerable length it drew me in instantly and pre-listening to it in the store for mere seconds I knew I had found something extraordinary. Brought it back to Kolbotn with me and what unfolded was beyond my wildest heavy metal dreams, like a mix of the slowest best parts of the Uriah Heep that I knew, Black Sabbath, slow Metallica and a touch of “Beyond the Black” by Metal Church. And it was so… complete, this world of wonder. And it was Swedish. I’ve had a romantic view of Sweden since the early ’80s, just crossing the border 1.5 hours south of Kolbotn and see the traffic sign being yellow instead of white is still a big thing for me. I was awestruck, the whole instrumentation, the incredible suiting vocals, all the reverbs and echoes, the tiny toms on the drum set, the few synth arrangements. And at this point I didn’t yet know about Trouble.
Epicus Doomicus Metallicus immediately entered the top 10 metal albums that I had, and it never ever left that list. I believe it is the same for Ted [Nocturno Culto].”
Dobber Beverly (Oceans of Slumber)
“I wanted to bridge a gap between old and new. Wasn’t going to alter the arrangement much but putting a vocalist the caliber of Cammie [Gilbert] on an already soulful doom song seemed like the right thing to do.”
Brooks Wilson (Crypt Sermon)
“Epicus Doomicus Metallicus boldly stands out amongst the albums of its era. The contemporaneous bands were accelerating their tempos, pushing their vocals higher, and generally seeking to advance music to keep up with the pace of a ready-made, hastening culture. In the face of this, Candlemass dug into the past—the primordial essence of heavy metal—and created something new from something almost primeval. Still, their debut is progressive in its own way, and it favors dense neoclassical melodies over speedy riffs. Some of these elements were present with other ’80s bands: Witchfinder General, Trouble and Cirith Ungol. These bands still echoed the contemporaries but were an obvious influence. Candlemass, however, dusted off the boots and put on the robes.”
Anders Engberg (Sorcerer)
“When I joined Sorcerer in ’89, the music for the Anno 1503 demo was already written. I was approached by Johnny Hagel to do vocals and lyrics for it. At that point, my awareness of Candlemass was very modest. I was a huge Black Sabbath fan—Tony Martin and Dio eras—and I was in a more melodic outfit. I played with Johan Längquist’s kid brother, so I was aware of Johan and knew him. However, when approached by Johnny, I was introduced to Candlemass. When Nightfall came out, I was already a total fan. Candlemass were and still are a huge contributor to Sorcerer.”
Ika Johannesson (Blood, Fire, Death: The Swedish Metal Story, author)
“Very often trailblazing records are misunderstood when they are released. 1986 was the year of The Final Countdown and let me tell you, Sweden was all about Europe and Bon Jovi, pure hair metal bonanza all around, and suddenly this album of something entirely else drops. Epicus was not melodic, it was not about having a good time; it was heavy, ominous and unpolished. Of course, it wasn’t received well. In the extreme metal world, the focus was on thrash. But the people that needed to get it, did.
It was of course super influential on the burgeoning death metal scene, both its heaviness, but also by the pure fact that it was released in Sweden. Just knowing that Candlemass and Bathory existed in our small country was inspiring to a lot of extreme metal fans. Of course, kids were excited. There were so few bands around at the time.”
Greg Mackintosh (Paradise Lost)
“It came out at a time when metal was headed in a different direction. This happens sometimes. It’s a shame but if an album’s material is strong enough then it can endure like this album did. This record directly influenced me as a guitarist and a songwriter. The solo on “Crystal Ball” has always been my favorite guitar solo. The tone and the emotion in it far surpasses any kind of technical playing. I have been chasing the weeping guitar style ever since. The songs helped me understand the importance of a good hook regardless of how heavy the music is.
Fredrik Åkesson (Opeth)
“When Epicus came out it was something never heard of before and definitely a new level of doom. Inspired by Black Sabbath, Trouble, Saint Vitus, Leif Edling managed to write something even heavier and doomier than ever.
I grew up in the same suburb where Candelmass was based, and it was inspiring to hear this band heavier than everyone else. I remember me and some buddies use to sneak around their rehearsal house. Little did I know later on I got to play the guitar with Leif in Krux. EDM is a timeless masterpiece and a must-have!”
John Perez (ex-Solitude Aeturnus)
There is a timeless production quality to this album. It’s both raw and polished at the same time. The drums sound enormous. In fact, a little fun observation; I was working at our local metal record store here in Arlington [Teaxs] when the album was released. Somehow, we were able to get a few copies for sale (difficult to acquire import at that time) and Vinnie Paul from Pantera was in the shop. He would always ask me about new stuff and nice little chats here and there, so this time I played him Epicus and he was very impressed and in fact said that the drums and drum sound was awesome on this record. Epic doom was not really the style the Pantera guys were into, but even Vinnie Paul had to admit that this was a killer!”
Tickets for Decibel Magazine Metal & Beer Fest, featuring Candlemass, Cannibal Corpse and special full-album performances from Nuclear Assault, Wolves in the the Throne Room and The Red Chord and tons more are going fast (under 50 “Metal & Beer” tickets remain). Full band and brewery lineups — and links to all remaining ticket options — are below:
Purchase Decibel Magazine Metal & Beer Fest: Philly Two-Day tickets
Purchase Decibel Magazine Metal & Beer Fest: Philly June 10 tickets
Purchase Decibel Magazine Metal & Beer Fest: Philly June 11 tickets
FRIDAY, JUNE 10
Candlemass (performing Epicus Doomicus Metallicus in its entirety)
Wolves in the Throne Room (performing Two Hunters in its entirety)
SATURDAY, JUNE 11
Nuclear Assault (performing Game Over in its entirety)
The Red Chord (performing Clients in its entirety)
Full of Hell
All Else Failed
“Just Metal” Ticket (21+)
Admittance to the day’s event, but as the name suggests, you just get to see the show—no beer samples (You can still buy select beers a la carte if you’re 21+).
“Metal & Beer” Ticket (21+)
Admittance to the day’s event plus unlimited* sampling from our diverse lineup of national breweries presented by Broken Goblet Brewing. Decibel Magazine Metal & Beer Fest: Philly 2022 sampling cups provided. Limited to 650 tickets per day. *Please note: In extremely extreme cases, certain high-ABV pours will be ticketed, with attendees receiving a limited number of tickets available to redeem for each offering.
We’ve also got your heavy metal pre-game covered with the official Decibel Magazine Metal and Beer PRE-FEST! On Thursday, June 9 at the Foundry (located directly upstairs at the Fillmore), doom sludge titans Primitive Man headline a special evening with support from progressive death metal heroes Horrendous, death/doom demolitionists Mortiferum, grindcrushers Jarhead Fertilizer and black/death blasphemers Berator!
Pre-fest tickets are just $20 in advance and are on sale now!
NOTE: Pre-Fest tickets are NOT included with the purchase of Decibel Magazine Metal & Beer Fest: Philly tickets.
Hails and ales to our partners!
Metal Blade Records
Broken Goblet Brewing
Brimming Horn Meadery
Pull the Plug Patches
Translation Loss Records
Bone Up Brewing
Dark Descent Records
Victory Brewing Company