Interview: Candlemass vocalist Robert Lowe talks about “Death Magic Doom”

Candlemass

Candlemass released the album “Nightfall” in 1987. The album has been credited with creating the “doom” metal movement – which could be true, if your definition of “doom metal” is so strict that it doesn’t include Black Sabbath. But even without the “doom” label, “Nightfall” was a monster.

With its huge, ton-heavy riffs and black atmosphere, “Nightfall” had a power that was impossible to deny. The album became a classic, and it inspired legions of musicians to follow the band down the path to mammoth, Sabbath-infused epic gloom. One of those musicians inspired by Candlesmass’ Siren song was Texas native Robert Lowe.

Flash forward 22 years later. Lowe, who still performs with his longtime band – the doom infested Solitude Aeternus – is now Candlemass’ frontman and is belting out operatic dirges to a new generation of doom metal fans on the band’s new album, “Death Magic Doom.”

Although Candlemass has had several vocalists over the years, any singer stepping up to the band’s microphone must deal with the shadow of Messiah Marcolin, who recorded “Nightfall” and fronted the band twice before finally quitting for good in 2005. While some fans have never accepted Candlemass without Marcolin, Lowe said said he was not afraid when he joined the band in 2007.

“I never really felt that intimidation factor,” Lowe said. “Solitude Aeturnus pretty much started because of ‘Epicus, Doomicus, Metallicus’ (the first Candlemass album), and ‘Nightfall.’ We didn’t copy their style, but it helped point us in a direction. Since 1991, we were in a parallel direction as Candlemass.”

When Lowe joined the band, “I knew right away I was not even going to bother cloning Messiah. I was going to do it the Robert Lowe way,” he said.

“Death Magic Doom” allows Lowe to soar in operatic fashion. Lowe said he never had formal vocal training – and did not originally intend to be a vocalist at all.

“I actually started out at 11 or 12 playing guitar and I wanted to be Yngwie Malmsteen,” Lowe said. “I fell into the role of vocalist … Then Solitude came along and they needed a singer.”

While Lowe had hoped to join the band as singer and transition into guitarist, through singing “I found what I consider my niche,” he said.

All of Candlemass’ music and lyrics are written by bassist Leif Edling. Lowe, who is lyricist for Solitude Aeturnus, said he prepared to record the vocal track on “Death Magic Doom” by finding an emotional connection to Edling’s words.

“I was able to listen to the material for quite a while before I had to go into the studio,” Lowe said. “I was able to put feeling to the music … I’ll plan what piece of music I want to go with the lyrics, because the tune goes with the emotive feeling of the lyrics.”

Candlemass 2008-10-11

“Death Magic Doom” is full of standout vocal performances. “I enjoy (singing) the entire album,” Lowe said. “But, ‘The Hammer of Doom’ is obviously a great song (as are) ‘The Bleeding Baroness’ and “Dead Angel,’ and I enjoy doing the end part of ‘My Funeral Dreams.'”

This summer, Candlemass will be performing across Europe, from Spain to Romania with stops in Norway and England. But Lowe said American fans will likely not get a tour this year.

“I don’t foresee a (U.S.) tour, but there are a butt load of festival I’ve got, and they keep coming in every day,” Lowe said. The band toured the U.S. in support of “King of the Grey Islands,” but fan support is stronger in Europe, Lowe said.

“That (tour) was so-so. It was hit or miss with a lot of places,” Lowe said. “Bands like Candlemass or Solitude Aeturnus aren’t big here … There’s not exposure (to the music) unless you actively seek it out, or through word of mouth.”

This summer, Lowe will do double-duty in Europe, as Candlemass and Solitude Aeturnus play the same festival in Romania. Lowe said he is looking forward to performing with both bands on the same stage.

“I feel the same on stage with either band,” Lowe said. “It’s similar music, similar quality and working with a great bunch of musicians. I enjoy being there and putting on a show. I give both bands 100 percent either way.”

Tracks from “Death Magic Doom” and other Candlemass albums can be heard here.

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