Sound — 9
Ancient Dreams more or less sums up the early style of Candlemass heavy riffs, great drumming, Marcolin's vast operatic vocals and Edling's lyrics, all shown in their best on Ancient Dreams. There are a few mid tempo sections here and there, the rest is slower paced as doom metal should be, so if you want speed look somewhere else. The album also sounds epic, not in the Blind Guardian fashion, it's dark and powerful, and the balance between the two main elements, heaviness and epic-fullness is good, the songs don't stray away into either one element too much. I especially like the sound of the lead guitar and there are a couple of nice solos on this album. You can really see that every song has been given a lot of attention, there is a common line between them but every song is a bit different from the others. For an example, Epistle 81 is a simple song focused more on the vocals while Darkness in Paradise a series of heavy riffs and leads.
Lyrics — 9
Leif Edling knows how to write proper lyrics, they are very doom metal but again epic and it is this balance that impresses me the most in the early Candlemass albums. The lyrics are sung by the immense Messiah Marcolin, there is no other word than immense, just listen to Epistle 81 Marcolin shift form the mid to high octave to the low without a flinch.
Overall Impression — 10
Though I like Candlemass' Abstract period more than the early I have to say that this is their best album. If you don't like doom metal you wont like Candlemass or Ancient Dreams and unless you don't like operatic vocals you will find that Marcolin uses too much vibrato, if you want to see doom metal really is I recommend both Candlemass and Ancient Dreams. My favorite songs are Epistle 81, The Bells of Acheron and Mirror Mirror.