Below - Across The Dark River review
|Album:||Across The Dark River|
|Release date:||April 2014|
01. Trapped Under Ground
02. Bid You Farewell
03. Ghost Of A Shepherd
05. In My Dreams
06. Mare Of The Night
07. The Whitechapel Murderer
08. Across The Dark River
Fresh from the Swedish school of doom come Below, a band whose simple name reflects their simple approach to the genre.
Across The Dark River opens up with "Trapped Under Ground," which could easily be a throwback to Black Sabbath's Dehumanizer. Below claim later Black Sabbath, Candlemass, and King Diamond as their main influences, which seems like a fair comparison to me, but they lack the kind of imagination and inventiveness that made those artists truly great.
Below economize with their music; solos aside, they are not prone to flourishes, experimentation, or using any more notes than absolutely necessary. Playing with minimalism in songwriting can have unfortunate consequences, and while Below frequently manage to dodge the traditional bullet of becoming generic, they cannot always escape. In addition, they fall victim to another stumbling block: Across The Dark River has a debilitating sense of lifelessness. "Portal," "Ghost Of A Shepherd," and other songs sound cold and unfeeling, as if they were played with no emotion or interest. This was my first impression upon hearing this album and the most troublesome aspect since the album is put together well enough technically, but its sound is lackluster and unfeeling, as though it were being played by a computer program.
The solos display a lot more imagination, particularly those contained in "Mare Of The Night," and even show off a bit of that coveted Swedish death metal guitar tone. Translating some of this flair from leads into song structure (or riffs, at least) could rescue Below from mediocrity. The Dio-esque vocals, mixed liberally with shades of Bruce Dickinson, give these doom-y strains some much-needed spirit. Once again, "Mare Of The Night" provides the finest example; in fact, "Mare Of The Night" as a whole showcases Below at their best.
At the end of Across The Dark River, I don't quite feel as though I've met my doom. "Mare Of The Night" and "Trapped Under Ground" make for some good listening, and the vocals carry a lot of weight, but it still seems like there just isn't enough here. They play the correct notes, they have professional production, and they are not short of talent, but Below nonetheless do not sound fully developed yet.
||Written on 02.06.2014 by Reviewing since 2010. Reviewing competently since 2013. More metal than you since before the dawn of 'istry.|
|Below is a triumphant re-imagining of the traditional and root elements of doom. What it lacks in originality, it wholly makes up for with quality in both songwriting and production.
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