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Truthfully, I’m not the most experienced doom metal fan. I know the big names of the genre and I enjoy their work, I’ve just never gone much further. Unless you include the gothic stuff, Candlemass is my favorite doom metal band. “Nightfall” is almost a contradiction to traditional doom metal. It’s epic and extravagant, and definitely beautiful. Every song is filled with apocalyptic guitar riffs and climactic vocals. Who would have thought that slow music could be so powerful? Every time I hear this, I am reminded of why it is an album representative of its genre; and a metal classic in its own right.
The songs are incredibly well written, and they’re placed in a great order. The album opens strong and it closes strong, as well. The use of brief instrumental interludes adds to the grandeur of the album. While some listeners might find them to be an interruption to the flow, I think they help the album move along. The interludes link each song together, and they continue the epic sort of feeling the album gives off. Another feeling I get from these short pieces is that they keep an already grandiose album from being too over the top. They give the listener a chance to digest the atmosphere and gigantic riffs. I realize that what I’ve written about the interludes sounds like a contradiction, but it makes sense when you hear the album in its entirety. They basically keep a leash on the cheesy, grand feeling while continuing it in a subdued way. The way the tracks are linked together is brilliant.
None of the main songs of the album are filler. If you exclude the interludes, then you’re left with six seriously strong songs. The members of Candlemass have a great feel for when to lay on the grander songwriting, and they also know when to pull back a little. I’ve mentioned it previously, but the riffs on this album are gigantic. They’re a little reminiscent of old school Black Sabbath, but they’re bigger and have a sweeping feeling to them. Each one creeps up on the listener, before immersing him or her into the song at hand. The solos are fantastic as well. The contrast between a speedier guitar solo and the massive riffs allows for a great dynamic within the songs.
The bass is audible and adds to the crushing heaviness of the whole release. There’s a great part in the middle of “A Mourner’s Lament” where the bass is the only instrument audible; the effect is enhanced by a whisper of “rest in peace”. The drums are nearly perfect for this type of album, they’re slow and heavy. They pick up the pace where they need to, and they let the songs flow when it’s necessary. The bass and drums work together in a very strong way. They complement each other very well, serving as a flawless base under the colossal riffs. I always love the little drum piece at the beginning of “Samarithan”.
Perhaps, the most praised aspect of this album is the vocals. The vocals are great. Yes, they are really over the top. Truthfully, I would probably get sick of listening to the singing if I spent hours doing it; yet I still feel that Marcolin is a really talented singer. His range is unbelievable, and he has just the sort of voice to be doing this kind of music. The integral reason that this album is so majestic is the vocals. They just propel the songs to different heights. I enjoy Marcolin’s lower and middle range voices more than his higher voice. They suit the songs better than a higher voice; though he’s good at everything he does here.
The Ridiculous Video for "Bewitched"
I know I’ve said about a thousand times that this album is grand and majestic. It is, but that doesn’t mean that the album isn’t dark or gloomy. When listening to “Nightfall” I always get a gloomy, sad vibe. Most of the lyrics are about death and losing loved ones. I generally don’t put too much stock in lyrics, but these suit the songs so well. Candlemass have done something really unique here. They’ve taken topics that should be better expressed in a minimalistic style, and given them a magnificent musical backdrop while still maintaining the dark emotion. The songs are, really, quite emotional sounding. Most of this is due to the exaggerated vocal lines which really convey the mood of the music more than anything else. This emotion may be most evident in songs like “A Mourner’s Lament”, and “Dark Are the Veils of Death”. I would be lying if I said the over the top nature of the songs didn’t get in the way of the enjoyment, because they do. But this is all part of the fun.
Aside from being overdone at times, the songs are still strongly written. They’ve got catchy parts and are generally memorable. “At the Gallows End” was the song that initially made an impression on me. The distinction between the slower pieces in the song and the heavier portions makes it particularly memorable. The first verse sounds great, with doomy riffs over clean guitar picking. The faster riff that follows is one of the best on the whole album. The song is a dramatic piece that accurately showcases the feeling of the album. “The Well of Souls” is another standout, though it’s not as dynamic as “At the Gallows End”. However, it makes up for this by containing several crushing riffs and one of the best vocal performances on the album. I also find myself enjoying “Dark are the Veils of Death” and “Samarithan”. The former has an ultra dramatic chorus, while the latter has extremely haunting vocals during its verse. Just listen to where he sings: “I gave him hospitality” in “Samarithan”, it’s chilling. “Bewitched” is the album’s hit, but I’ve always preferred the other songs.
“Nightfall” is one of the most essential doom metal albums ever recorded. I would recommend it to any metalhead out there, regardless of their genre preference. It’s simply an album that you cannot say is bad. I’m sure that I like it less than most people and, yet, I cannot bring myself to find many flaws at all. It does get a little cheesy after awhile, but this doesn’t detract from the strength of the album.
Best songs: “The Well of Souls”, “At the Gallows End”, “Samarithan”, “Dark are the Veils of Death”.
This review was originally posted by me at: http://www.theheavyreview.blogspot.com/2012/02/candlemass-nightfall.html
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