Leif talks about Epicus…
If you ask me, this is Candlemass signature song….the song that defines us. If you should play one song for a person that never heard the band before….this is it.
And like other genre defining bands like Motorhead, Iron Maiden, Metallica, Black Sabbath and Pentagram etc…after just a couple of seconds, you hear it’s us.
Alot of people have also said that this is the track they would like to be played at their funeral. Personally I dont know about that….guess it’s an honour anyway if they say this.
And speaking about death and funerals….not one but two people have told me that a person very close to them have taken the car out to the woods and shot his head off while listening to Candlemass and ”Solitude”.
Not exactly the stuff you wanna hear on a night out with your friends. Thanks mate… thanks for telling me……”Another beer please…”!!!
The chorus is inspired by Venoms ”Buried Alive”… you remember the intro with the priest and stuff…..Earth to Earth…Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust!
But it was close ”Solitude” never happened. I was writing on another song that later would become ”Samarithan” but our drummer hated the riff. Called it too simple and childish, so I had to come up with something else….”Solitude”…
To be honest…i wasn’t sure ”Solitude” was a hit or should be the opening track on the album. I wanted the opener to be ”Demons Gate” instead…but it was our drummer again that insisted on ”Solitude”. I guess he was right….! It was and is the perfect start for ”Epicus Doomicus Metalicus”!!
In the 80’s we often played ”Solitude” early in the set. Today it is the only really suitable end to a Candlemass show. People sing their throats off and every hand is in the air! At Wacken some summers ago it was fucking magic! 30 000 people were singing and shouting and cheering and we had goosebumps! A moment i will never forget.
This is probably my favourit track on ”Epicus”. I love the long intro… the chords that i worked on for weeks and weeks. They work great with the drums and build up to the evil negative riff that is Demons Gate… and.. perhaps… the best track on the album.
I really like the riff…it is complex..almost sounds like it’s played backwards…and the drums are just perfect with the hi-hat beat. And it leads into the verse that Johan sings in his characteristic way. To hear his voice on this track always sends chills down my spine….
The verse is in E, but what note to land on? After trying all the notes in the alphabet I went for a D. Well….in our tuning of course. In Candlemass we don’t care about our tuning. If it’s the 5.th fret on the A-string, it’s a D!! It doesn’t matter if we tune in C, H, E or A. The 5:th fret on the A-string is always a D! The chorus that begins with ”Approach the Eibon” is obviously inspired by Fulcis masterpiece ”The Beyond”. The entire band loved the film so I had to write a song based on it. Europe did ”7 doors hotel”, and I did ”Demons Gate”!
On the back cover of the album you can see Eric Larnoys painting and if you haven’t already guessed, it’s a painting based on ”Demons Gate”. I hated it when i first saw it….but over the years i have grown…well….used too it. Too much pink….
We really dug Eric Larnoys paintings for Manilla Roads ”Open the Gates” and ”The Deluge” and wanted one for ourselves. That’s one of the reasons we sent a tape to Black Dragon to begin with. And of course…we were huge fans of Manilla Roads music!
So, a year earlier in 1985, the first Candlemass demo was sent to Paris, to Black Dragon Records. ”It was ”Crystal Ball”, ”Into the Unfathomed Tower”, ”A Sorcerers pledge” and ”Warchild”. The frenchies loved it, but wanted to hear more. So…we went into the studio again. This time to record 2 new songs…”Demons Gate” and ”Black Stone Wielder”. They thought the tracks were amazing and offered us a deal. We didn’t have a lead guitar player at the time so my friend Klas Bergwall helped out. Did a fine job! We had tried lots of people but either we didn’t like them….or they didn’t like us!! I went to Klas house a couple of times before the recording to work on the solos with him and I like the result! Of course we asked Klas to join the band, several times, but he had his own band. A band called Arrow. I actually met Klas at the recent anniversary show in Stockholm and he looked pretty much the same. It was good to see him again!
After the solo you can hear Mats Ekströms big moment. Boy…did he work on those fills and rolls.but they sound just great! Also, Mats is of course responsible for the level of the drums in the mix. We lowered them when he wasn’t around or turned his back, but still….some of the loudest drums I have ever heard on a record.
Mats was a close friend but he could’t be in the band because of his job. He couldn’t rehearse that much and he couldn’t tour. Too bad…he was a really good drummer!!
A song written in 1984 I think. First with me on vocals, but on ”Epicus”…with Johan. Johan was never a member of Candlemass. He had his own band Jonah Hex, after a character in a western book or comic. I had heard of the band, both Candlemass and Jonah Hex were from the northern suburbs of Stockholm. I didn’t know them, but apparatly our drummer Mats did. He was from the same place as Johan – Jakobsberg.
So one day..I think it was just a couple of weeks or so before the recording of ”Epicus” and we hadn’t found us a singer. It was totally impossible… So Mats came to the rehearsal room with this tape…Johan was singing…and we loved his voice. BUT Mats made it very clear from the beginning that Johan would not join Candlemass, but could sing on the album as a session singer.
To me and the rest of the band, including Mats Ekström, it was a big problem. If you sang on the album you should be a full time member of the band. I remember us bitching about this for days, until we didn’t have a choice anymore. I didn’t wanna sing on the album, we REALLY needed a singer! In the band or not, Johan Langqvist did an amazing job!!
I love his singing on ”Epicus”…his voice suits the songs so well! We asked him many times to join the band…we begged him…but I don’t think he liked the music so much. Jonah Hex was more melodic hard rock…the style that Johan preferred.
I actually saw Johan a couple of times in the late 80’s, early 90’s. he was driving a cab at night and picked me up outside different clubs in Stockholm. I think we spoke about the album and what he was doing, but it’s kinda blurry hehe…
I don’t remember what inspired the lyrics to “Crystal Ball”….but i have a vague memory of reading ”The Lord of the Rings” at the time and it could be about Lord Saruman and the Palantirs…but i’m not 100% sure about this.
BLACK STONE WIELDER
This song begins with a count-in…in swedish….!! When we toured with the guys in King Diamond they told me that they had bought the album….thought it was absolutely amazing and that we must be from america….until they heard the swedish count-in! They told me they almost fell backwards!! What the fuck, are these guys swedish….can’t believe it!!
And this is the reason we got our first tour. Messiah phoned King up one evening. You know, got hold of Kings number in Copenhagen from a friends friend….the King answered and when Messiah stuttered that he plays in Candlemass and could we be on the upcoming King Diamond tour in Scandinavia, the King said ”Yeah…sure”!! He had actually heard ”Epicus…” loved the stuff and offered us to open up for them on the spot! Incredible!
To this day i’m very thankful to King and Andy LaRoque. Without their support in those early days, we might not be the famous band Candlemass! Thank you guys!!
Lyrically, this is my version of the story of three wise men, and what they were looking for. I worked on the lyrics (and music) a lot and almost drove my girlfriend crazy at the time. Lots of sleepless nights in my small one room apartment in Uppland Väsby.
We had about 2000 dollars to spend on the recording and mixing of ”Epicus”. And we chose ”Thunderload” studios in Stockholm. My friend Yngwie Malmsteen recorded a demo there and so did my earlier band Trilogy. We couldn’t afford a ”better” studio…but it worked out fine. Ragne Wahlquist did a great job with the mix on his old live mix consols.
Actually it was a miracle we managed to play in Thunderload! It was bloody cold in the studio!! We had to wear longjohns and gloves in the recording room, because the studio was placed below the subway at ”Universitetet” in Stockholm.and we were there in the middle of the winter!!! Frost came out when we were breathing and the recording room was so damp! It was almost impossible to play your guitar or bass or drums!!
The mixing room was okey though. Ragne Wahlquist (from Heavy Load) he had heaters there and sat behind the mixing desks (2 x 16 channel Hagström PA desks linked together)…and sometimes during extra long studio hours, he took his very tight pants off and sat there mixing in long-johns and cowboy boots. Quite a sight!!….
You had to pee in a red bucket in a corner and sometimes we had to wait for the subway train to pass before we could continue working with an overdub or something. And when we were sitting in the mixing room…you could hear the band in the room next door practising. And they always played ”Beast of Burden”. Still hate that song to this day!!
Anyway….this song is maybe the dark horse/the odd one on ”Epicus”…but i like it. And it sounded incredible when we played it live with Johan at the 25:th anniversary party!
UNDER THE OAK
A song that originally was named ”In the shadow of the cross”. I worked on the verse quite a bit and eventually it became ”Under the Oak”.
For all of you that know Candlemass and our history this is part 4 of ”Tales of Creation”. A saga about the origin of life that i started to write in 1984 and finished 5 years later when we finally recorded the album.
I love Mappes guitarsound here. I think he used his old white BC Rich, and it was plugged into Ragnes Wahlquists old Marshall amps. He had tons of those down at Thunderload….white, grey, red…amps and cabinets that colleted dust everywhere in the studio. He also had Orange stacks and Hiwatts… Thunderload was a goldmine if you were after that warm vintage sound of the 70’s. Mappe stereodubbed his guitars with a bit of chorus and that’s it. A raw and crunchy but warm guitartone.
I don’t remember much from these recordings I must admit…..but i think i used an old homebuilt brown Thunderbird bass that I later painted black. And i think i lined it straight into the desk. I can’t say for sure but i’m almost certain that was the case. Exactly how i do it even today!
I’m okay with the re-recording of this song on ”Tales of Creation”, but this version is soo much better! I know a lot of people have this track as their favourite from ´”Epicus”……. Good choice!!
A SORCERERS PLEDGE
You can hear Johan soundcheck his microphone at the very beginning of the song, but wekept it. It sounds cool 🙂 I was standing next to him to guide him through the songs. Johan had been listening to the songs only for a week or so, and wasn’t 100% sure about how to sing it. With that in mind his performance on Epicus is even more admireable!
And the keyboard you hear also in the beginning, we borrowed it from a friend from high school. He couldn’t really play on it, but told everybody he was the King of Keyboard. But in the studio it was clear he didn’t know what he was doing, so I think it was me and Ragne….or maybe Mats Ekström who played it on the album. Originally we wanted more keys….y know…proper chords, but had to settle for the one-finger-waltz instead. It works but it sounds just a little bit too amateurish. We wanted this big epic sound landscape there at the start of ”Sorcerers Pledge”! It is such a big song so I guess we thought a 12-string guitar wasn’t enough…..But it is!!
We did it exactly like this at the 25th anniversary show in Stockholm and it sounded just great! Sometimes less is more….and you should never drench a good song with too many instruments and overdubs.
I remember when we played ”Sorcerers Pledge” at Wacken in 2002, the summer of doom…. I saw an ocean of people going nuts during S.P! It was just getting dark and from the stage you could see hordes of people that came from the other stages to see us! An incredible memory!!
This song is about a mad old sorcerer that thinks he can extend his life by drinking young virgins blood. To me he´s like a cross between Dracula and the wizard Merlin.
Mats Ekström had huge problems with his drumplaying in Thunderload. The Heavy Load brothers Ragne and Styrbjörn were recording songs themselves so they didn’t wanna move the mics from Styrbjörns drumkit over to Mats Ekströms drumkit. So in the end Mats had to play on Styrbjörns drums, which wasn’t very easy to do. Mats was hitting his drums very hard you see…so Ragne ordered him not to hit Styrbjörns drums so hard, afraid Mats was gonna break something. So Mats couldn’t hit the drums like he was used to. They also had steel wire protection around the microphones on Styrbjörns drumkit + lots of gaffa tape on the skins, so Mats also had a very limited space to hit on….which made his playing even more difficult!
The entire hi-hat was a steel cage of wire and blankets. Just to get the perfect sound. You had to put your drum stick into a small hole first to be able to play on the hi-hat!! Wow!! But the drums did sound great! 🙂