Gig Reviews

Candlemass brought the doom to Japan

Marking 40 years since the band was founded in Sweden, doom metal pioneers Candlemass returned to Japan to show us how it’s done.

Candlemass at Club Quattro, Shibuya, Tokyo, Japan on 26th January 2024

It is 40 years since Leif Edling formed Candlemass in Sweden in 1984. There have been line-up changes and a few stop-starts along the way. But in 2024, Candlemass remains the leading light the band has always been in doom metal. Leif Edling’s songwriting is at the heart of what Candlemass is and why their style of heavy and slow doom metal is still relevant. The musicians in the current line-up of the band all have doom in their blood and they are still at the top of their game.

“I’m not 50 any longer”, said an exhausted Leif Edling to me backstage as he sat down after the show. He’s 60. Importantly, he can still write excellent songs and he can still perform. With him in the current line-up of Candlemass are what can only be described as a best-of version of the band. Original vocalist Johan Längqvist, who sang on the band’s 1986 debut album “Epicus Doomicus Metallicus”, returned to the band in 2018. The rest of the line-up consists of band co-founder Mats “Mappe” Björkman (rhythm guitar), Lars Johansson (lead guitar) and Jan Lindh (drums) who were all part of the classic line-up in the late 80s and early 90s that recorded the albums “Nightfall”, “Ancient Dreams” and “Tales of Creation”. They all rejoined the band in 2001.

They opened the Tokyo show with “Mirror Mirror” from 1988’s “Ancient Dreams” album and continued with “Bewitched” from 1987’s “Nightfall”. The setlist performed in Tokyo was perhaps predictable but excellent. It had a heavy focus on the band’s material from the 80s with songs such as “Bearer of Pain”, “Dark Are the Veils of Death”, “Samarithan” and “A Well of Souls”. They also played the title track from the band’s most recent album, the excellent “Sweet Evil Sun” which was released in 2022. The rest of the set was dedicated to classics from the band’s debut album – “Under the Oak”, “Crystal Ball”, “Demon’s Gate”, “A Sorcerer’s Pledge” and “Solitude” which closed out this excellent evening in the name of doom.

I first saw Candlemass perform in 1990 during the “Tales of Creation” tour and have always been a fan of both their studio recordings and live shows. They have now toured Japan three times (2016, 2019 and 2024) and each time showed us that they remain a top live act. I hope we will see them return for more gigs. They still got it. No doubt, Candlemass is still one of the best metal bands to ever come out of Sweden.

Candlemass – Epic Doom Metal