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 positioned 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 sophomore 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.
After Marcolin left, Candlemass recruited vocalist Thomas Vikström and recorded Chapter VI (1992). Candlemass then disbanded, partly because the album 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 Abstakt Algebra CD and some new material. A couple of years later the Black Sabbath-inspired album From the 13th Sun was released.
In 2002, the members of the classic 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 has been released as well. The band was working on a new album, with some new songs recorded, and searching for a record label, but differences arose again, resulting in Candlemass disbanding again. In the meantime, Leif Edling started a new project, Krux, with former Abstrakt Algebra singer Mats Leven and two members of Entombed.
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 classic line-up. It was released in May 2005. This CD was named in the top 20 of 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. After much uncertainty regarding Messiah's participation, in October 2006 it was settled that Messiah was out for good. The band then found a new vocalist, Robert Lowe (Solitude Aeturnus), who recorded the band's new album King of the Grey Islands, released on June 22, 2007. The new album is self-produced except for four songs produced by Andy Sneap.
On March 31, 2007, Candlemass celebrated a slightly delayed twentieth anniversary. The most notable part of the celebration was original singer Johan Längqvist's first (and only) live appearance with the band. The event was recorded and later released as a DVD.
In March 2008, Mats "Mappe" Bjorkman has been sentenced to serve two years behind bars for grand theft. He has been convicted of stealing over 35,000 CDs and DVDs priced at around 3 million Sek (Around $500,000).