Dark Mofo, Hobart TAS
June 16th, 2019
If there is one thing Tasmania gets right every time, it is Dark Mofo. Since its inception some six years ago we have seen some of the greatest international Metal bands play exclusive shows in our humble little city. Last year’s highlight for me was Electric Wizard; this year it was the first ever and only Australian show for legendary Swedish Doom Metal gods Candlemass.
For me, as a long time fan who first started his musical affair with the band way back with their incredible 1986 debut album Epicus Doomicus Metallicus and the 1987 follow up Nightfall. Both albums were underrated, but highly regarded masterpieces amongst fans. The band’s ability to mesh the classic heavy sounds of Black Sabbath, Rainbow and hints of the then kings of thrash; Metallica together on those first two records that had me hooked. Mind you my musical tastes were broadening and changing at this time, but Candlemass still remained in play even though I must admit I lost interest in Candlemass by 1988 when the third album Ancient Dreams was released, they had faded from my awareness just as Venom, Celtic Frost and the whole death metal genre had; hell I had taken a break for listening to Black Sabbath at the time, so the band didn’t stay on my radar.
Fast forward to the new millennium and in 2002 I brought the first four albums as deluxe CD reissues as I had sold my vinyl. Candlemass for me are one of those bands that I go through stages of prolonged absence from the stereo, to solid playing of those two first records that changed something in me. The announcement of the band’s Dark Mofo show brought it all back into play again and with the release of The Door to Doom which saw the return of Johan Längqvist who had been absent since the debut. My interest peaked again and had hoped that this would become one of this year’s live music highlights. Would it live up to my expectations? Absolutely and surpassed it; it was such a brilliant show.
Fans had begun to cue in front of the Odeon Theatre waiting for the doors to open, the cue by the time the doors opened had become a block long. This show had sold out earlier in the week and prime position was key for many. Chatter in the lines and inside the venue was of expectations of the show and interstate doomsters who had made the trek catching up with their sister and brothers in metal. Merch had sold out before the show had started, fans lapped it up.
It was 11.02pm when the lights dimmed and the intro tape began, the roar from the audience was deafening as Candlemass launched into “The Well Of Souls”. The band was on point and from the first instance of Johan Längqvist opening his incredible pipes the crowd was in awe. For the next sixty minutes, Hobart was treated to one of the tightest Doom metal bands of all time.
The band interacted with the crowd well, lots of smiles, laughs and most of all Johan’s stage presence and engagement was incredible. Johan often crouching at the front of the stage presenting his claw like hand gesture to the front rows of the crowd. Johan sang with passion, intensity and command; his voice was in incredible form. Tonight’s set was heavily weighted with songs from the first four studio albums and the most recent release The Door To Doom. But when you only have an hour for your set I don’t think you could have picked a better setlist.
Johan spoke with the crowd telling us “It has taken thirty two years and thirty six hours on a plane to be here. But it was worth it! The things we do for metal” as the crowd erupted again.
Guitarists Mats “Mappe” Björkman and Lars Johansson were incredible, tight and meticulous in their deliver of riffs and solos. Drummer Jan Lindt had the time of his life and was a treat to watch, but for me the bands MVP went to bassist Leif Edling who was full of smiles and fan interaction as well as playing like an absolute beast. Before you knew it, it was all over though. In all honesty I can’t flaw Candlemass’ performance. My personal stand out moments were ‘Mirror Mirror’, ‘Bewitched’, ‘Solitude’ and ‘Black Trinity’.
From a purely visual standpoint, production was slick, the sound was massive, however the absence of front lighting did make it at times to see Johan as he moved to the very front of the stage which also made it tough beyond the first 5 rows to see him. Shooting this show was a task, but not impossible. Visually it was great to watch and as a package never allowed you to lose your interest.
I have a feeling we may see Candlemass in Australia again sooner than we think. Would I see them live again? Without a doubt, you can bank on that !!!