Swedish metal band Candlemass calls itself the "heaviest band in the world." The wall of Marshall amplifiers notwithstanding, the heaviest thing on stage at the 9:30 club Thursday night was the band's large lead singer, Messiah Marcolin. He of the big witches-broom hair stomped around the stage in his medieval monk's garb, singing such neo-pagan songs as "At the Gallows End" in his warbling operatic tenor.
His voice was loud and clear, as was the rest of the band, which benefited from an excellent sound mix. Marcolin's vibrato was matched on guitar by lefty lead player Lars Johansson, who provided the only interesting musical moments with his liquid runs and feedback squeals. The language barrier didn't exist for Marcolin, who sings in English, though for audience participation, he fell back on chorus chants of "oooh oooh" and "aaah aaah" nearly every song. The crowd was small but rabid, loving every minor key guitar riff, which boomed through the speakers so hard your kneecaps shook. At its best, as on the new song "Night of the Witch," Candlemass links speedmetal licks with Black Sabbath's intensity, a melding especially clear and powerful in Jan Lind's drumming. But most of the time it seems to be repeating itself, finding comfort in the familiarity of its own songs.