Below (Swedish Epic Doom) - 'Across the Dark River' CD Review (Metal Blade) ~ BrooklynRocks: NYC Music Blog

Sunday, May 04, 2014

Below (Swedish Epic Doom) - 'Across the Dark River' CD Review (Metal Blade)

STREAM: Below - "Mare of the Night" (from Across the Dark River)

Below (Swedish Epic Doom) - 'Across the Dark River' CD Review (Metal Blade)
Swedish three-piece epic doom band Below released its debut full-length, Across the Dark River, last month month on Metal Blade and the band has a sound that will be immediate recognizable to fans of Dio and the Tony Martin era of Black Sabbath. There are also hints of King Diamond in the mix and this shouldn’t come as a surprise as the band recorded this album at Andy LaRocque's Sonic Train Studios. Below offered the following comment on recording with LaRocque:"To have the opportunity to work with Andy LaRocque and Olof in Sonic Train Studios is amazing. It will be a truly epic album that will leave its mark in the history of doom."

Below play slow-brooding doom that isn’t as bottom-heavy as the early Sabbath material as these songs add clean NWOBHM-style guitar lines, keyboards/organ and occasional chanted backing vocals to the band’s foundational heavy riffs. Andy LaRocque's production gives the band a clean sound so there is an even balance between the vocals and the instrumentation. Similar to King Diamond, the lyrics of the songs tell tales of ghouls and demons , murder, being buried alive along, etc. Most of the songs clock in over five minutes so vocalist Zeb has both the space and sonic backdrop to use his emotive and operatic vocals to set the song’s mood.

“Mare of the Night” (streaming above) is a good indication of the sound of the disc as most of the songs are stylistically similar. The only exceptions to this are: “Ghost of a Shepherd”, where the band noticeably picks up the tempo of the song, and “Dream of the Night”, which is a short intro (35 seconds) which leads directly into “Mare of the Night”. One of the disc’s strongest tracks is the melancholy title track (which runs eight minute long) that tells a tale of crossing of the river Styx.