Below: Across The Dark River

Swedish doomsters prove a few candles short of a mass

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Sweden’s Below (nil points for the name, guys!) are newcomers to the doom scene and this debut album is rather more pristine and polished than their tender years might have led us to expect.

The production, courtesy of King Diamond axeman Andy La Rocque, has a nice, warm 80s feel to it – particularly the drums – which is nothing if not appropriate given that Across The Dark River is an apparent attempt to reconstruct Candlemass’s classic Nightfall with inferior songs. This is far from a duff album, but when you invite comparison to the point of insisting on it, don’t complain when it happens.

Epic riffing: check. Mournful lyrics delivered in a soaring, operatic fashion: check. Lyrics about graveyards, ghosts and mysterious things going bump on misty nights: check. Even the guitar solos get just a little too close for comfort at times. The main question is why, in a world with Candlemass in it, anybody would want this. But then again, this is also a world where watered-down facsimiles sell like crazy.