was a grunge project formed by a couple of trendy young musicians, circa nineteen ninety in Seattle. In ninety one, there were several Seattle based grunge bands who hit the big time, with international airplay. So Uncle Duke
expanded their line up to a quartet, by adding a bassist and another guitarist. Then they changed their name to Candlebox
, which may have an ironic connotation. The name sounds charming at first, with a potentially aesthetic appeal. But then it's just the box of a candle, which could be a piece of discarded rubbish. They soon took their act to the Seattle nightclub circuits, competing with other up and coming bands. Eventually they made a demo recording and circulated it to prospective record companies. Soon they were signed by Maverick
Records, which was run by Madonna. The grunge scene was extremely hot in ninety three, when they released this debut.
Co-founder Kevin Martin has been the band's only vocalist, without any back up vocals. He has a naturally high pitched voice and sounds similar to Phil Collins. The use of echo reverberations enhance his vocal deliveries. He effortlessly hits the high notes and carries his voice as sharp as a razor. Sometimes it becomes so dramatic and animated that his performances almost seem theatrical. He raises his voice and shouts and screams during the musical climaxes. Every now and then he seems to portray the attitude of a simple country boy and comes across sort of like Jeff Keith from Tesla
. Don't You is a three minute song which starts with a quick laugh, then jumps out with hard driving bass lines and heavy drum beats. The guitar riffs are aggressive and articulate with the note variations. The vocals are screamed, sung and yelled with invigorating intensity. "Oh I could tear your walls down, as I chip at who you are now. Don't You?" At first the lyrics try to intimidate and bully the listener with a domineering mentality. The flow of the instrumentation seems to alternate between smooth and coarse textures, but always at a brisk tempo. Then halfway in there is a very dramatic guitar solo. The lyrics make an ironic turn around. "Scream
and shout now, as I feel you pressing down. Don't you? You walk on my heels now." As though he had provoked this maltreatment.
features two guitarists, with Kevin Martin playing rhythm and Peter Klett handling the lead. About half of the songs are hard charging, with intricate high note melodies and explosive riffs that are played in an urgent hurry. Sometimes there are awesome guitar solos with incendiary textures like Richie Blackmore's style. Then there is unassuming guitar picking during the calmer parts, which resonate like contemporary Rush
. Occasionally there are flashy and beautiful melodies, played with hypnotic and dreamy note successions. Although there are two guitarists, the instrumentation never detracts from the vocal presence. Track
number three, You, starts with the intricate guitar picking of a catchy melody. The vocals gently sing out; "you, it's for you. Only you, it's for you." Which makes people feel like they're special and blessed to receive something good. Then the drums kick in to enliven the pace and intensity. The bass lines roll out, for a full measure of atmosphere. But the slower melody bounces back and forth with the strong climaxes. Then the lyrics take on a totally different attitude. "Don't put your drugs in my face or I'll put you in your place. Fuck you! I don't want you no more!" The ironic twist is that at first, it offers the listener a warm affirmation, but then it follows with a cold rejection.
Bardi Martin (Kevin's brother) usually plays his bass at the mid range notes. He bolsters the melodies with heavy power chords from time to time. But his presence still plays an inconspicuous role to the vocals and guitar music. Arrow
rocks at a vigorous pace, with a lively performance from all members, during this three minute track. It starts out with a hard rocking guitar hook, which sounds like Frankenstein by Edgar Winter
. The drum playing is faster and flashier than usual. The lead guitarist shows off with a tricky little zigzagging riff. The lyrics are swiftly chanted. "She don't have a name, she don't have a face." The bass music is played very tight, hard and fast. The speed and intensity of the song pick up a few notches. "Yes I see you, you point too, you waste me." The ironic spin is that the arrow is being referred to as a live female being, during archery warfare.
Scott Mercado is a co-founder of Candlebox
and their original drummer. He uses an unusual drumming method, where the hands aren't allowed to cross. Which is supposed to expand the tonal range. His specialties are the jazz and rock styles of percussion. His performance is active yet not so flashy and yields dominance to the stringed instrumentation. The cymbal music is used to enhance the high guitar notes. The drums are hit hard, but catchy beat patterns aren't too plentiful. Cover Me starts with humble acoustic strumming and gentle singing. "Cover me when my stance it stumbles home." It almost sounds like a pitiful begging approach from a bum. Then a bass rhythm moves in to add some punch. "You're under me and you question my authority." Then halfway in, the song takes a blod shift with strong riffs and powerful bass lines. A catchy melody soon kicks in with an attitude that you have to cover your boss at work. This seems to be another ironic theme that involves a role reversal plot.
Although they didn't start out in the eighties, like their Seattle counterparts, their debut album was very competitive. It went quadruple platinum, selling over four million units. There are many imitators of bands like Nirvana
and Pearl Jam
. But Candlebox
has a unique style of grunge, which is close to a glamorous strain of hard rock. Their music is dominated by guitars and a talented singer. The vocalist isn't very nice to the listeners, he portrays a devious double crosser. The lyrical schemes are geared with diametrically opposed approaches of role reversals. The song textures are usually softer before they explode into a paradoxical climax. Ironic twists and turns abound throughout this album. The drum playing is lackluster and lacks vitality. The bass music doesn't pose a very strong presence and could be better. There some dull interludes and a few uninteresting songs.