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A Look Back at the 1988 Studio Album "Ancient Dreams" by Swedish Doom Metal Band Candlemass

Ara is a journalism graduate from California State University, Northridge, who is always looking to explore his writing opportunities.


Vocalist "Messiah" Marcolin Returns for Another Candlemass Album

Ancient Dreams is more than just the third studio album by Sweden’s longtime doom metal band Candlemass. Enough time has passed that a look back at this album is necessary. Ancient Dreams was released in 1988 and it also marks the return of vocalist Messiah Marcolin. “A Cry from the Crypt” has a riffing part that resembles a lighter version of what we would have heard from Metallica. It doesn’t really sound 100% like doom metal but I get the sense that it is influenced also by Black Sabbath. There is a repeating line in this song which Messiah Marcolin utters which gives away the song title but it also shows his vocal strengths and prowess.

Ancient Dreams is a Unique Album Even for Candlemass

Making this album somewhat unique especially among doom metal albums is the fact that the last track is a Black Sabbath medley consisting of parts from six different Black Sabbath songs. Although the previous Candlemass album Nightfall featured the band covering a part of a Frederic Chopin song but turning it into a more metal music kind of version, it is not always that a band performs a sort of medley of songs as this.

Can Candlemass Compete With Bands Such as Mercyful Fate?

“Darkness in Paradise” is a song that once again has that Black Sabbath influence with one major difference. That difference lies in the heaviness of the guitars. For 1988 standards this type of doom metal would have been considered pretty heavy thus making 1970s era Black Sabbath light in comparison. I could have used the word more mainstream to describe the differences between the two styles but for this analysis we will use the word heavier because it is more appropriate. There is a heavy bass part in this song and once again the vocals tower over the bass guitar play. Lyrically, this song describes a world engulfed in darkness as the man is asking for forgiveness of all of his sins so that he could be shown the way of light. “Incantation of Evil” is one of those songs that listening to it now I get the sense that with this song Candlemass shows that they can compete with Mercyful Fate for bragging rights we can say but also Mr. Marcolin shows that he is definitely very skilled and competent to have been the lead vocalist for this band as long as he had been.

Hard to Say Which of the Three Early Candlemass Albums is Best

At this point, trying to choose between the first three albums of Candlemass as to which one of them may be a favorite is a rather challenging task because they are all solid as heck! The towering vocals of Messiah Marcolin also help to strengthen the two albums that we have looked at so far that he has been the lead vocalist of which are Nightfall and Ancient Dreams.

Ancient Dreams is an album that lives up to its title because in terms of years it is rather ancient having been released almost 33 years ago. However just because it is an older album does not mean that it is not a good one. On the contrary, Ancient Dreams is a very good combination of Metallica and Black Sabbath style riffing.

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Listening to Ancient Dreams more and more, it is feasible to have the sentiment that Messiah Marcolin in the vocal category is better than his predecessor Johan Langquist. “Bearer of Pain” in its beginning resembles a very heavy opening progressive style riff and there’s something that doom metal bands probably don’t do very often.

“The Bells of Acheron” features a very pretty melodic mid-section followed by a good guitar solo. So basically what you are going to find on this 3rd Candlemass album is doom metal that is melodic and performed pretty darn well. It is not a flawless release but it is good enough for fans of the genre.

"Mirror Mirror"

Candlemass Ends This Album in a Most Appropriate Way

What an interesting way for Candlemass to end this album in no other way than to basically pay tribute to the one band that was responsible for setting in motion what was to become doom metal. I know that usually original versions of metal songs are thought to be better than cover versions but clearly Messiah Marcolin delivers an outstanding performance on this six part abbreviated cover version of Black Sabbath songs. Instead of weakening this album, this Black Sabbath medley of songs actually helps strengthen the album even if a slower version of the song Electric Funeral is not as good as the original version.

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

© 2021 Ara Vahanian

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