A casino of the damned? Someone dial Anne Rice's agent; there's a potential Lestat story to be fleshed out here. In one of the weirdest experiments in metal, doom legends CANDLEMASS created a soundtrack song for an online gaming experience, "House of Doom".
Now, before you trigger-happy zombie mashers get a blazing hard-on by what you think "House of Doom" entails, be forewarned this is actually a European golden-wheel gambling site, "best experienced when played with real money." Bait and switch. Clever move, Leif Edling. Incentive mode, there's a "House of Doom" bundle package to be claimed by signing up.
When he's called upon to sing throughout "House of Doom", Mats Levén sways conservatively behind the up-tempo bashes to the verses and choruses. The 6:21 plot is constructed like the opening to a Euro horror film, which makes the vehicle it was actually created for a bit off-putting. The marching rhythm cools into a neoclassical organ and synth reverie before taking a final tramp through the main cavalcade. The song ultimately dumps its audience into a dense miasma where one can expect to be drubbed by concussive funeral tolls. There's a small bit of cheese and a lot of predictability to "House of Doom". Considering this is a multimedia experience, the primary intent is to spool a metalhead's happy place, thus prompting the hopeful transfer of virtual dollars.
Whereas Mats Levén stays checked down on "House of Doom", he unshackles himself on the 6:10 "Flowers of Deception", which is, at first, a buzzing drone bot set to task with the expected array of prototype slag riffs. Leif Edling's cloggy bass breakdown opens a thread of melancholic progressions, giving the song a seasoned air of dirge. Amidst a long instrumental sequence, Lars Johansson patiently awaits his opportunity to freewheel on "Flowers of Deception", but his solo makes its gritty statement, then bows out. In standard CANDLEMASS fashion, it's the grooves of despair that count.
Not so much a surprise as a welcome divergence, the acoustic-based glumness of "Fortuneteller" gives Lars Johansson opportunity to show off his quick and delicate plucking, leaving a barren echo gobbled by the brute instrumental "Dolls On A Wall". While the track is doom in theory, there's noticeable sludge and shrill static emissions in the way KYLESA might similarly handle songwriting of this nature. CANDLEMASS is thus subject to minor reinvention.
With promise of a new CANDLEMASS full-length on the horizon, the "House of Doom" EP signals that Leif Edling and company have a few fresh ideas to tool with. If you think this gaming venture is cool, then have at it, but there is a reek of capitalist exploitation that's hard to shake while listening. On the flipside, "House of Doom" provides a far cooler vibe than the obnoxious flotilla of plinks and chimes encased within Slot Machine Hell.