After the breakup of his first band Nemesis in 1985, bassist Leif Edling started his own band under the name Candlemass with vocalist Johan Längqvist, guitarist Mats Mape Bjorkman, and drummer Matz Ekstroem. 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. Längqvist only recorded that one album with Candlemass, however. His successor as frontman, Messiah Marcolin joined the band for their second effort, Nightfall in 1987. Two other new members appeared on this album: Lead guitarist Lars Johansson and drummer Jan Lindh.
Candlemass's next two albums were Ancient Dreams (1988) and Tales of Creation(1989). This last album is distinguished from previous releases by adding some speed-up patterns into the band's original sound, usually associated with progressive metal. In 1990, the band released a live album. Shortly afterward, a dispute between the band members resulted in Messiah Marcolin's departure.