Black and white photo of Candlemass crammed in a car
Credit: Linda Åkerberg

If you love modern doom, you owe a debt of gratitude to Candlemass. Formed in Stockholm in 1984, the group were among a handful of early purveyors of the slow, down-tuned, and monumentally forlorn heavy form of metal inspired by Black Sabbath. In fact, their 1986 debut album, Epicus Doomicus Metallicus, helped establish the genre’s name. Aside from two hiatuses of a couple years apiece, Candlemass have been trucking ever since, with founding member and bassist Leif Edling leading the way through various lineups. From 2014 till 2019 Edling had to step away from touring due to ongoing health issues, but he continued to write and record with the band in the studio. During that time, he and original guitarist Mats “Mappe” Björkman (who left for eight years in the mid-90s before rejoining in 2002) pondered the future of the band and decided that the best way forward was to reach back to their roots. Thus Candlemass surprised and delighted fans in 2018, when they announced they’d recruited a new front man: Johan Längqvist, who’d laid down the devastating vocals for Epicus Doomicus Metallicus as a session musician. Längqvist’s first time singing live with the band was at a 20th-anniversary show for Epicus Doomicus Metallicus in 2007. The record turns 36 this spring, but if the Längqvist era 2.0 is any indication, this Candlemass gig at Thalia Hall won’t feel like a tired rehashing of the past. Their 12th record, 2019’s The Door to Doom (Napalm), returns to their doomy foundations, magnifying Edling’s dynamic songwriting with Längqvist’s powerful presence—and Sabbath fans take note, “Astorolus—the Great Octopus” features a searing guest solo from Tony Iommi. (The track landed them their first Grammy nomination, for Best Metal Performance.) This set will include Candlemass material past and present, and we can hope the band will play their cover of Trouble’s “The Tempter,” recorded in tribute to Eric Wagner, vocalist of that pioneering Chicago doom band, after he passed away last year. (Wagner’s group the Skull was slated to open this concert when it was announced in 2020.) Come early for Philly psych rockers Ruby the Hatchet and gloomy Cleveland crew Frayle, and stay till the end to fill your soul with earthshakingly heavy epic doom.

Candlemass, Ruby the Hatchet, Frayle, Sun 4/24, 8 PM, Thalia Hall, 1807 S. Allport, $24-$32, 17+