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Metal/Prog Metal CD Reviews

Leif Edling

Songs of Torment, Songs of Joy

Review by Mike Korn

Leif Edling has got to be one depressed dude. It's not enough for him to mastermind the doleful Candlemass, the godfathers of the modern doom metal movement, or even to helm the lesser known Krux, who are also pretty gloomy. Nope, Mr. Edling must now slake his thirst for morose and crushing music by putting out his own solo disc. And wouldn't you know that this is the slowest and doomiest of the lot?

Candlemass fans will surely find a lot to like here, but there are some important differences. Most obvious, of course, is the fact that Edling handles vocal duties here himself. To put things mildly, he is not a god-like crooner in the vein of current Candlemass singer Robert Lowe or former vocalists Messiah Marcolin or Thomas Wikstrom. But then, he doesn't try to be, either. He favors a twisted, almost spoken word approach to the lyrics, declaiming them in a disturbed sounding tone that sometimes rises to a shriek. For the most part, it works, but one does occasionally miss the melodious tones that usually accompany Edling's work. The other major change is the much more obvious use of keyboards to add atmosphere. Fortunately, the keyboards are mostly ominous Hammond organ tones sounding like they escaped from a Hammer horror flick. They really inject a creepy feeling into these long and lugubrious tracks.

Those who are drawn to the most depressing forms of music should find Songs of Torment, Songs of Joy just the ticket for another dose of sorrow.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2009  Volume 2 at

Track by Track Review
The Scar
Doom! That's what this cut is all about! The opening chords are so morose and heavy, it sends chills down your spine. Ghostly wisps of organ add a further pallor to this crushing tune. Edling's whispered vocals relate some pretty ugly lyrics that occasionally become profane.  If you wondered if there was such a thing as epic doom metal even slower and darker than Candlemass, this track is your answer.
It Is Not There
The mood doesn't get any brighter here, though the pace is slightly more upbeat. The main riffing is very much like classic Candlemass but the verses consist of Edling whispering/speaking stream of consciousness lyrics in a hushed, ominous tone. The keyboards also play a more prominent role, but they provide more of a creepy ambience than anything else.
Angelic Until I Die
On this cut, the Hammond organ becomes an even more powerful presence, adding its own unique heaviness to the sludgy, doom-filled trudge. Edling's words speak of a gargoyle like child that spends its life in the darkness of a dungeon-like basement. A choir of voices also helps to make this a supreme work of Gothic metal gloom.  "A mind drenched in voodoo, a body to destroy/I'm a superhero for an 8 year old boy/I want to climb mountains, liberation I seek/But first I must learn the days of the week."
On The Edge of Time
This crunching, pounding bit of down-tempo metal is accented by the addition of very proggish, almost Rick Wakeman-like synth work. The main thrust of the cut is pure Candlemass, but given a twist by Edling's grim spoken vocals and those spacy synths. Some of the spoken parts are virtual poetry, unaccompanied by music.
This brief bass instrumental basically provides a breather between two monolithic doom tunes.
My Black Birthday
This follows much in the vein of previous tracks, especially "The Scar", but Edling and his band have such a knack for great doomy riffs that you can easily forgive the redundancy. The lyrics seem to describe a suicide's visit to hell...yes, it's another knee-slapper. Edling's vocals are even more demented than usual here.
Space Killer
Repetition forms the backbone of this killer doom/drone classic. It's really more of the same, but this time the catchy yet dismal main riff is pounded into your brain until it becomes overwhelming, creating a hypnotic trance. As the music rises, the spoken lyrics become increasingly maniacal, adding to the disturbing feeling. The bass sound here is utterly crushing. This is a track that many will probably hate, but doom metal fans will fall to their knees in worship.
This brooding colossus is mostly instrumental and creates the feeling of slowly, silently gliding through the deepest part of the ocean. Sound effects and "sonar" beeps add to the undersea atmosphere. The main riff is magnificent...very Asian and ornate, utterly classic. Lasting almost ten minutes, this epic is as good as anything Candlemass ever did. At the very end, a distorted voice relates a tale of Captain Nemo and his mighty submarine:  "We were prisoners inside...dive, dive, dive."
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