Below – “Across the Dark River” (Metal Blade Records)
Legendary has it that after only one, unreleased EP, this Swedish doom lite band was booked on a 10 day tour through Denmark, Holland and Germany with the final show being at the Hammer Of Doom festival! Well, that’s easy to understand when you hear this debut that was incidentally produced by Andy La Rocque, who I understand was equally excited by the band’s potential, as they sound like a lighter version of classic Candlemass right down to the last chord. From Zeb’s wailing, which hits Messiah’s operatic highs although possessed of a softer somewhat rockier touch, the melancholic doom riffs follow suit and likewise aren’t quite as musty as a crypt the way Leif Edling had them 3 decades ago. Add in some trippy harmony vocals and sombre choirs and songs like ‘Bid You Farewell’, ‘Mare Of The Night’ and ‘Across The Dark River’ are less dark and depressive but nevertheless get the doom message across amidst a more catchy rock groove. Steeped in the same mysticism as their fellow Swedes Ghost as all the members have apparently played in previous bands before – but decline to say which despite having credible enough musicianship – Below have only been around for a year and a half, but have ascended faster than a rocket so I’m sure this is all part of some grand master plan, right down to the cover art that could’ve been from the vaults of Shrapnel Records!