Review Summary: An absolute essential to any metal collection, and a cornerstone of traditional doom metal.
When it comes to the metal scene, Sweden has given rise to more bands than almost anywhere else in the world. The diversity of her metal alumni is astounding: Bathory, Opeth, At The Gates, In Flames, the list goes on. Sweden is most known for its melodic death metal movement which occurred in the early and mid '90's, however many other styles of metal have emerged from Sweden. One of the most interesting and perhaps overlooked of these is doom metal. Candlemass
are widely accepted as one of, if not the, first of their kind to play modern doom metal. While Candlemass didn't spontaneously create doom metal (as Black Sabbath and Pentagram have influenced the genre) they did impact it greatly with the release of their 1986 debut, Epicus Doomicus Metallicus
, an album which showcased their epic sound, thus crowning them the founders of the epic doom genre.
Candlemass' brand of doom revolves around the use of heavy guitars, (which as we all know is very uncommon in metal) operatic vocals, and usually slow paced music. These traits define for the most part what can be heard on Nightfall
. The lyrics focus mainly on the occult, religion, and fantasy, and these concepts fit well with the epic sound featured on Nightfall
and more importantly shape it into a complex and interesting listen.
Since Epicus Doomicus Metallicus
is one of the most respected albums of the genre, it is important to understand the differences between it and Nightfall
. The most noticeable difference between the two albums is the vocal-work. Although Epicus
featured Johan Längqvist as frontman, he would abandon this role to pursue other projects despite the efforts of the band to keep him. At this point, Candlemass was in turmoil, and eventually two more members departed from the band. Finally in 1987, Candlemass were able to secure the musicians they needed to continue, and this lineup is considered to be the most successful. To replace Längqvist was Messiah Marcolin, whose voice was higher in pitch which resulted in a slightly different sound for Nightfall
Leif Edling - Bass
Messiah Marcolin - Vocals
Mats Björkman - Rhythm Guitar
Lars Johansson - Lead Guitar
Jan Lindh - Drums
is unlike anything you will ever hear, which is what elevates it to the status that it has acheived today. While the "sophomore slump" syndrome seems to plague many new bands (it was 1986 at this time and the band was relatively new) Candlemass fended off this dreaded disease. The level of music contained here is brilliant, and the consistency of the album will render the listener without complaint. While Epicus
pushed the limits of doom, Nightfall
indulges further into these boundaries. The guitars, which are played one semitone lower than the standard tuning of the instrument results in the trademark ambience which is in fine form on this album. The vocals of Messiah are not easily forgotten, as he is a master of commanding his vocal vibrato as well as using his voice to accompany the music in a way that draws attention to himself. Some may even say his vocals are overdone, however most will find it easy to disagree.
's dark and enchanting melody haunts the listener as the opening track, and evokes the feeling of darkness, something the listener will feel throughout the course of the album. Messiah's vocal prowess is perfectly displayed here, and the song shines with its impressive riffing and rhythm section accompanying his voice. An outstanding solo courtesy of Johansson can be found here, his style highly reminiscent to the great Yngwie Malmsteen.
contains four gloomy instrumentals: Gothic Stone
, Codex Gigas
, the aptly titled Marche Funebre
, and Black Candles
, cowritten by King Diamond. Chopin's famous funeral march is appears here as Marche Funebre
. While it was written some hundred and fifty years before the release of Nightfall
, it fits the album as though the band had written it themselves, a testament to the mourning mood presented throughout the entirety of the album.
As I've already mentioned, the lyrics focus mostly on the occult and religion, and Candlemass' epic reinterpretation of the Christian story of the good Samaritan is one perfect example of both of these concepts. The lyrics of Nightfall
are of course dark and compliment the funeral feel of the experience.
The Priest He Will Pray For My Lost Soul
I'm Sure He's Wasting His Time
A great part of the album is the story behind each song. Marcolin's delivery is so effective that these lyrical concepts come alive in the music. Not one song leaves the listener questioning the structure of the songs, nor lamenting the time gone by in observing this masterpiece. Let it be known that as a guitar player I am usually attracted first and foremost to this area of the music, but with Candlemass all instruments are balanced and mixed perfectly. Bassist Leif Edling contributes some of the best bass lines I have ever heard, one fine example being Mourner's Lament
. The lower register is neither drowned out nor muddied amongst the wall of guitars and drums, a weakness many metal albums suffer from.
is a metal masterpiece and a doom metal essential. Overcast in gloom and darkness, the mourning climate present on it is absolutely brilliant and refreshing. All five musicians provide a non-stop supply of magnificently crafted metal. I recommend picking this up immediately.
-Excellent Guitar Riffs and Solos
-Exceptional Bass Playing
-Four instrumental tracks may discourage some listeners