When it comes to Candlemass, I'm all for pretty much dropping everything I'm doing and slapping their latest on at maximum volume the very first chance I get. So was the case with their brand new four song EP Death Thy Lover, which is due out next week through Napalm Records. An unexpected random promo in the ol' inbox, I quickly grabbed the files, loaded up my MP3 player, and hit the road to complete some chores to one of my favorite metal groups that I shamefully admit to owning very little by beyond their recent material dating back to the recent reformation. And, much like their more recent album Psalms for the Dead, I found myself merely coasting from one location to the next with the same perplexed look on my face the entire twenty-six minutes this release was on.

It's been about a good week now of random spins, and that perplexity has faded. However, I still can't help but feel that I was slipped a cover album in disguise, or something along those lines. Death Thy Lover isn't something I'd call bad, but it isn't something I'd really call a Candlemass release either. To me, Candlemass is Epicus Doomicus Metallicus, Candlemass, King of the Grey Islands, and Death Magic Doom. Instead of those moody and majestic performances, this one just sounded like paint-by-numbers Ronnie James Dio worship with hints of Black Sabbath thrown in. The latter of those two was more prevalent during "Sleeping Giant", but the former is pretty clear in it and the title track, both leaving me greatly disheartened for the most part.

Even the second half of this EP just did very little for me, though the closest to what I'd consider a Candlemass recording of any kind. "Sinister N Sweet" kind of stuck with that namesake, keeping a sinister oppression to the doom metal chords that only this entity within the style can really excel at, though they sometimes travelled too close to the Alice Cooper realm of shock rock thematics for my tastes in the quieter moments. Thankfully there isn't much negative to be said for the instrumental conclusion "The Goose" other than I just found it kind of boring. The funeral procession style is on par with what one would expect from the group, but it just didn't really feel as though it had any sort of magic or passion behind it, really degrading the impact to more of a nudge with a blunt object from someone behind you merely suggesting you jump into the shallow grave so that you can be buried alive in the name of insert random occult deity here.

Death Thy Lover still doesn't really sit well with me, nor does it really stand as something I'd throw in my car again for a ride of any length of time. Even just sitting around listening to good metal while I have some rare alone time, it would be on the very bottom of my list of stuff to break out and relax to. While the shock of such a low brow creation from such pioneers of the doom metal genre has mostly passed by the time I found said time to write this article, I still find myself let down and unable to get invested beyond the chorus of the title track and some of "Sinister N Sweet". When I want ritualism and gloom, Candlemass is one of the first groups I run to my collection and grab, as there's always some sort of world within the music I can find myself being pulled right into. Here, however, it's just a stagnant landscape of recycled ideas from other musicians I'd rather be listening to instead, something I have yet to say or feel about any other Candlemass recording to date that I have actually had the chance to hear (which is actually most of their discography aside a few albums I have yet to check out).

Maybe it's because I hold the group in such high regards, setting constantly towering expectations for them that it was inevitable they would fail to hit said heights at some point in their career. Or, maybe the band is starting to feel the pains of thirty plus years of existence (counting those two under the name Nemesis). Either way, Death Thy Lover was a surprisingly bland, and to an extent even unoriginal sounding affair I'll let sit buried in the digital catacombs that is my external hard drive of metal.