Released: 2017, Metal Blade Records
Below’s debut album, ACROSS THE DARK RIVER caught a lot of people’s attention back in 2014. The album was released on Metal Blade, and it did not take people long to recognize that they could be Candlemass’s successor, should that band decide to call it quits. Now this Swedish doom metal outfit has composed and released their sophomore album, UPON A PALE HORSE. Not surprisingly, the new album tightens things up in a few places, but continues in the style of the debut.
Not including the brief and expected instrumental intro, UPON A PALE HORSE offers a somewhat paltry 7 tracks. Despite the short list of songs, there are a couple of epics that eclipse the 8-minute mark, including the title track. “Disappearing Into Nothing” is a fine tune, recalling TALES OF CREATION era Candlemass, as singer Vox soars above the plodding and melancholy guitar lines. Losing a bit of momentum is the dull and un-heavy “The Coven”, with its clean guitars and almost jazzy progressions. The title track likewise resides in dirge territory, but with more heft and weeping guitar melodies. “Suffer In Silence” is probably my favorite song on the album, as it offers a mid-paced chug that is badly needed after the consecutive songs of slowness. Nearly its equal is “1000 Broken Bones”, a song that’s main riff is more than merely “inspired” by “Black Stone Wielder.”
While the obvious comparisons rightly point to Candlemass, there is more than a little bit of ICON era Paradise Lost in some of the riffs. Vox, for all his strengths, is not able to convey the dreary, windswept moors that Messiah Marcolin was capable of conjuring. Thus, Below serves as a faithful and worthy follower of Candlemass, but they have a way to go before they equal the godfathers of cold doom, let alone surpass them. Still, there is much to like on UPON A PALE HORSE, and in a style, that adds Scandinavian frost and drear to Black Sabbath’s original template.