Formation and early career (1984–1990)
After the breakup of his first band Nemesis, bassist Leif Edling started his own band under the name Candlemass with vocalist Johan Längqvist, drummer Matz Ekström, guitarist Mats “Mappe” Bjorkman and Klas Bergwall. Their first release, Epicus Doomicus Metallicus (1986), immediately secured their standing, positioning the band within metal circles, setting a milestone in the doom metal scene. Following the band’s debut album Längqvist was replaced by Messiah Marcolin. By the time the band entered the studio to record their second effort, Nightfall, in 1987, Bergwall and Ekström had left the band. Jan Lindh joined the band on drums, and Lars Johansson joined the band on guitars following the completion of the album.
Candlemass’s next two albums were Ancient Dreams (1988) and Tales of Creation (1989). In 1990, the band released a live album Live. Shortly afterward, a dispute between the band members resulted in Messiah Marcolin’s departure.
New singer-era, hiatus and first reunion (1991–2003)
After Marcolin left, Candlemass recruited vocalist Thomas Vikström and recorded Chapter VI (1992). The band then toured in support of that album. By 1994, Candlemass had called it quits, partly because Chapter VI was unsuccessful and partially because Edling had formed another project under the name of Abstrakt Algebra. With Abstrakt Algebra not doing well, Leif suddenly recruited a new line-up under the name of Candlemass and recorded the album Dactylis Glomerata, which was a combination of songs for a new Abstrakt Algebra CD and some new material. A year later the album From the 13th Sun was released.
In 2002, the members of a past Candlemass line-up reunited. They performed some well-received live shows and released another live album. Other albums released by the reformed band were remastered versions of Epicus Doomicus Metallicus, Nightfall, Ancient Dreams, and Tales of Creation. A DVD called Documents of Doom was released as well. The band was working on a new album and recorded some new songs while searching for a record label when differences arose again, resulting in Candlemass disbanding a second time. In the meantime, Leif Edling started a new project, Krux, with former Abstrakt Algebra singer Mats Levén and two members of Entombed.
Second reunion (2004–2006)
In November 2004, the band announced that they had re-united for the second time. They had recorded a new album, named simply Candlemass, with the same line-up. It was released in May 2005. They won a Swedish Grammy for it in 2005.
In 2006 the band announced that a new album was in preparation, to be released sometime in 2007. In October 2006, after much uncertainty regarding Messiah Marcolin’s participation, it was settled that Messiah was out for good.
Robert Lowe era (2007–2012)
Candlemass found a new vocalist, Robert Lowe (Solitude Aeturnus), who recorded with the band’s ninth album King of the Grey Islands, which was released on June 22, 2007. The album is self-produced except for four songs produced by Andy Sneap.
On March 31, 2007, Candlemass celebrated a slightly delayed twentieth anniversary. To commemorate the celebration, original singer Johan Längqvist appeared live with the band for the first time. The event was recorded and later released as a DVD.
Mats “Mappe” Bjorkman was sentenced to serve two years behind bars for grand theft in March 2008. He has been convicted of stealing over 35,000 CDs and DVDs priced at around 3 million Sek (Around $500,000).
Candlemass worked on a tenth studio album in 2008. It was intended to be titled Hammer of Doom, but they renamed it to Death Magic Doom because the name coincided with a German festival. The album was scheduled to be released on March 27, 2009, but it was delayed until April 3, 2009.
In 2009, bassist Leif Edling told Soundshock that work on the next Candlemass album would likely begin before 2011. However, this plan fell through, and Leif had stated that the album’s release date was pushed back to 2012, in order for the band concentrate on the 25th anniversary of their 1986 debut Epicus Doomicus Metallicus.
On October 14, 2011, it was announced that Candlemass were signed to the Austrian label Napalm Records, who released their final studio album Psalms for the Dead in June 2012. Despite this, bassist Leif Edling has said that the band will not split up and they want to stop before they “get too old and start putting out half-lame albums.”
Mats Levén as new singer and future (2012–present)
On June 2, 2012, Candlemass announced via their website that Robert Lowe had left the band as vocalist, mainly due to the quality of the live performances and explained to be “a very difficult decision for the band”, and would be replaced for the band’s upcoming shows by longtime friend and collaborator of Candlemass, Mats Levén (of Yngwie Malmsteen, Therion, Treat and At Vance fame, among others). Levén had earlier worked with Leif Edling in Abstrakt Algebra and Krux and sang on demos from the Candlemass and King of the Grey Islands sessions, found on the box set Doomology. In addition, keyboardist Per Wiberg (ex-Opeth, Spiritual Beggars) would also join the band on stage for these live shows.
In January 2013, Candlemass was voted the greatest Swedish hard rock/metal band of all time by the writers of Sweden Rock Magazine, Scandinavia’s biggest hard rock magazine as well as Sweden’s biggest music magazine by circulation. They were featured in a list of the 100 greatest Swedish hard rock/metal bands of all time in a special jubilee edition, to celebrate the magazine’s 100th issue. In connection with this, it was also revealed that Candlemass, along with death metal band Entombed (No. 2 on the list), were to perform jointly at a special jubilee concert in Stockholm arranged by the magazine. In July 2014, Candlemass headlined the Väsby Rock Festival in their hometown Upplands Väsby.
Despite earlier claims that Psalms for the Dead would be their final album, bassist Leif Edling has stated that he is open to recording new music with Candlemass again. To coincide with the 30th anniversary of Epicus Doomicus Metallicus, Candlemass released the EP Death Thy Lover on June 3, 2016. Additionally on April 29, 2016 the band released a career-spanning coffee-table book. The book also contained two CDs containing the top picks by Leif Edling and Messiah Marcolin respectively, an CD with rare tracks from their early career (including the Witchcraft demo), and two DVDs with three live performances.