Sound — 6
At first I was very excited about this album, it was after all the newest material from one of my favorite bands, and not to mention the rather long gap between "II" and "III" of some five years (well, four for me). The artwork further beguiled me by showing a rich palette of esoteric colors forming a psychedelic face, with the stars in the background and a name like "He Who Sleeps Amongst The Stars" it looked to be a winner. Yet with the first couple of plays of the album I have found that the band has, in a way, retrograded itself. A lot, if not all of the "oomph" that made the band's sound is just nonexistent. The album as a whole is fairly sluggish and about as varied as a stack of steel girders, and far less flexible. To be honest the same thing could be said about "I" and "II", they both had a few songs each that had obvious openings, progressions and conclusions, but to counter that they had truly epic and layered songs, while "III" really doesn't. When I said sluggish I did not mean slow as in low-tempo, in fact the better part of the album is predominantly mid-tempo, the songs are sluggish because nothing really happens for a good long while. A great example would be the title track, "He Who Sleeps Amongst The Stars": the song opens with a nearly stereotypical Edling whole step - half step riff, then it kicks up to a lively galloping riff that supports Mats Levn's verse melody, after the verse the song "suddenly" drops back to the intro feel, and the whole process is repeated. Half of Fredrik kesson's leads sound like he has just started to lay down what he is going (perhaps) eventually use as a solo. The rest of the album is little better.
Lyrics — 5
"He Who Sleeps Amongst The Stars" is followed with a much better song called "The Hades Assembly", which brings back the doom to the bands sound.It starts ambiguously, but when the first break comes after the intro riff, and then when Levn enters with his raspy voice, singing about secret societies, conspiracies and big businesses. Suddenly, out of nowhere, comes growling more suited for a death metal band, and in my honest opinion has no need to be in the song or has esthetic value. As much as the growls diminish the great atmosphere created by Levn, the lyrics cheapen it in the end. The dark mood that dominates the song is gone when towards the end the growls utter the following lines: "It's nothing personal, just business, We are the Hades Assembly, and we rock." However this pales in comparison with the highly predictable chorus formula, which is - "song name" + "something that rhymes" + repeat.
Overall Impression — 6
Among the more palatable songs are: "Emily Payne (And The Black Maze)", "Prince Azaar And The Invisible Pagoda", "Small Deadly Curses" and at times "A Place Of Crows". The rest is much of the same, and painfully average. With Candlemass' retirement in the horizon Krux might yet bring out its best material, but "III - He Who Sleeps Amongst The Stars" is just not it.