Leif Edling doesn’t even know how to spell the words ‘writer’s block’, so Candlemass’s uncertain future as a recording entity has nothing to do with any lack of material but more an overall fatigue of having carried the weight of such a legendary name, with all the expectations that come with it. Hence his regular use of side roads. But Avatarium aside, whose more progressive and classic rock leanings put them in a category on their own, The Doomsday Kingdom is a direct continuation of what Leif initially tried to achieve with Krux before their increasingly difficult logistics prevented them from carrying on. On closer inspection, TDK may also have some links with his one-off 2008 solo project, especially since they both started as a one-man army before slowly turning into an actual band. But in the end, this debut album actually feels like a means for Leif to finally indulge his love of classic heavy metal.
The choice of Niklas Stålvind from Wolf as a frontman is quite revealing. His menacing, high-pitched shrieks on the more straightforward material such as the opening salvo, Silent Kingdom, and Hand Of Hell are pure Judas Priest-worship, and there are more than a few nods to Dio, Mob Rules-era Sabbath and Accept on the record. But as it is often the case with over-prolific musicians, and Leif in particular, who has an instantly recognisable style of riffing, there’s also a strong sense of familiarity as the album’s overall menacing and still doom-tainted stance occasionally bears too much resemblance to Candlemass for its own good. In its few less amped moments, such as on the beautiful and mournful instrumental, See You Tomorrow, or on the epic The Sceptre with its Moog solo, a more melancholic and dreamy composer seems desperate to take the reins yet doesn’t quite make the plunge. But isn’t Leif, as he nicknamed himself initially for this project, ‘The Doomfather’ after all? So ironically, The Doomsday Kingdom will probably please Candlemass fans first and foremost, but as great as it is, we know Leif Edling can offer even more.