Candlemass - May 23, 2008 - Peabody's Down Under, Cleveland, OH
By: David E. Gehlke
Knowing full-well that a show of this magnitude would never come to Pittsburgh, the trek to our neighboring city to the East was made during Memorial Day weekend. Yours truly along with a fellow bandmate sped along I-76 amidst an endless throng of highway patrolmen, who no doubt were on the prowl for some inebriated motorists. Surprisingly, there were no wrecks or deluge of traffic and we were able to make the drive in just over two hours. Credit this to my take-charge, 'on the offensive' driving ability and the wealth of jams accompanying us on this trip, namely the new Testament, Mercenary, and Nightrage.
Anyone in the Eastern part of the country knows that Cleveland gets all of the good shows, and tonight's Candlemass/Daylight Dies bill was no exception. The Swedes are on their first US tour since 1991, supporting the killer King of the Grey Islands album with new singer, Robert Lowe, while the upstart Daylight Dies were airing songs from their forthcoming Lost To the Living platter for the first time. For a Friday night, the crowd was largely at bay, perhaps already gearing up for the weekend festivities as Pittsburgh classic metallers Icarus Witch got things moving with a spirited half-hour set of songs from their finely-tuned Songs For the Lost album and 2005's Capture the Magic. The band's heavy reliance of melodic, but kniving proto-metal songs won this crowd over, as guitarist Quinn Luckas and bassist Jason Myers doled out some jagged classic metal riffage, much to the delight of the filling room.
Daylight Dies were next and benefited entirely from Peabody's superior sound mix. The band's layered, intricate sound is fully replicated in the live setting, allowing for guitarists Barre Gambling and Charlie Shackleford to relish in both of their roles. Indeed it is an interesting guitar combination, with Gambling playing the bulk of the leads, clean-channel guitar lines and melodies, while the supremely-tight Shackleford held down the riffage and dark overtones of DD's sound. Singer Nathan Ellis was in top form, bobbing back and forth, out of time with the music (as my guest pointed out), but perfectly in synch with DD's darker-than-thou approach. "Lies That Bind" along with new songs "Cathedral" and "Dressed In White" were set highlights, along with "A Dream Resigned." Reduced to a mere 40 minutes, one could only long for the time when Daylight Dies moves up the ladder and gets to play a full set.
Curiosity surrounding Robert Lowe fronting Candlemass was palpable, made even more concerning given the geographical and logistical nightmare of having an American-based singer (Lowe is a Texan) teaming with a Swedish doom band. One has to think Lowe and the band have had minimal rehearsal time, but on this night (and probably the entire tour), you wouldn't even know it save for Lowe's occassional usage of a lyric sheet pinned to his floor monitor.
Opening with the earth-shaking 1-2-3 punch of "Well of Souls," "Mirror Mirror" and "Solitude," Candlemass could not have sounded more pristine. The punch of their simple, but monstrous riffs echoed throughout the mid-sized Peabody’s venue, sucking in the throng of roughly 200 for a set that touched on CMasses’ classic material and King of the Grey Islands.
Lowe’s voice fits perfectly in the pocket of the band’s older material, handling cuts such as “Crystal Ball” and “Samaritan” as if he’d been singing them for years. Lowe’s Southern drawl and off-center sense of humor was in stark to contrast to gloomy subject nature of the songs he was singing, but Leif Edling and the boys (including guitarist Mappe Bjorkman, who is facing possible jail time in Sweden) looked they were having a blast. A visual, semi-dramatic frontman, Lowe worked the crowd in Cleveland like a pure frontman, devoid of pretense, yet able to captivate the crowd who were surely skeptical of a man with big shoes to fill.
So impressive is Lowe as a frontman, that he makes the Messiah era an afterthought, especially now considering the drama the Monk-robed one put his bandmates through. On this night in particular, all was well in the doom world. Candlemass have one of the style’s most storied singers to sing their most storied of songs and its harmonious emanations had us all doing a little doom dancing.