|Classic Review: Candlemass - Ancient Dreams|
Label: Powerline Records
Year released: 1988
Genre: Doom Metal
Review online: August 11, 2003
Reviewed by: Sargon the Terrible
Rated 4.57/5 (91.38%) (65 Votes)
So the story goes, according to the lore, that Mark Shelton of the immortal Manilla Road gave his guys at Black Dragon records Candlemass' demo waaaaaay back in the day and said. "Sign this band." And they did, and the rest is metal history. Whether or not it happened like that, it's a great story. "Ancient Dreams" is the third album from this greatest of all epic doom bands. The album was recorded under difficult professional circumstances and it's clear from the liner notes that mainstay Leif Edling does not like it much, which I find incomprehensible, as this is the best Candlemass album to my ears.
Getting this on CD (after nursing a failing cassette for 15 years) was like getting an old friend back, as I still know every song by heart, note for note. A lot of people claim that "Nightfall" was the best Candlemass record, but every song here gives that the lie. Songwriting, production and lyrical wizardry all come together to make this, bar none, the best doom metal CD ever. No one can convince me that "Mirror, Mirror" "Bearer of Pain", and the colossal "Bells of Acheron" are not among the coolest riffs ever penned by this band. The sound, while supposedly so bad that the band begged for a remix, is thick and heavy, and the remaster has punched it up to a modern gloss quite nicely. From the first tolling riff I can't help but bang my head like a mongoloid while I sing along with the almighty Messiah Marcolin. He perhaps sounded a bit better on "Tales of Creation", but his operatic power has never faded, and great vocal lines like the ones on "Darkness In Paradise" give him room to stretch out his thunderous vocal chords. There is not a single weak track on the album, no matter what anyone, even the band themselves, may claim.
This is a class reissue jewel case in a cardboard sleeve with a whole extra CD full of stuff. The live tracks are OK, though the sound is muddy. The video for "Mirror, Mirror" is extremely silly, qualifying as Very Special Content, if you know what I mean. A fantastic singer he may be, but Messiah sure is no beauty, and I never wanted to see him shirtless. The interview is very cool though. The booklet is lavish, with liner notes, lyrics and pictures included.
This is one of my all-time favorite CDs, a true and timeless classic of metal by any measure. This would be on my top ten of all metal albums, Hell, my top 5. "Ancient Dreams" is an album I have loved for 15 years, and I enjoy it as much, or more, than I did when I was 16. The first four Candlemass CDs remain essential classics, and this is the best one. An absolute must-have for any metal fan.
2001 re-issue reviewed
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Video: Mirror Mirror (Live)
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