|Classic Review: Candlemass - Nightfall|
Label: GMR Music
Year released: 1987
Genre: Doom Metal
Review online: August 30, 2003
Reviewed by: Sargon the Terrible
Rated 4.68/5 (93.68%) (57 Votes)
Reviewing classics is never easy. Sometimes you find yourself grasping for things to say, trying to be more lucid than just repeating. "Man, this is a great album!" So: here goes. This was CD number 2 for Candlemass, the greatest doom band of all time, considered by many to be their best. After the promise of their debut, this was the band really arriving, with new singer Messiah Marcolin leading the way into metal legend.
"Nightfall" is by far Candlemass' most melancholy record, with the theme of death and mourning predominant. Whether it's the condemned man awaiting the noose in "At the Gallows End" or the parent grieving for their dead child in "Mourner's Lament" the mood of this album is extremely gloomy and gothy. You would think that would mean the CD was all slow and dragging, but there are some surprisingly uptempo songs here. "The Well of Souls" booms forth with energy and conviction and one of metal's all-time great riffs – the song is a lesson in pure doom. "At the Gallows End" gets the head banging with its colossal chorus and huge riffs, even "Samarithan" has a killer lead break to liven up the slow march of the rest of the tune. One of the cool things about "Nightfall" is the short instrumental tracks they put in to spice up the tracklist. "March Funebre" is a metal version of Chopin's famous funeral march and became the band's standard live opener, "Black Candles" was written by then-guitarist Mike Wead and is a nice moody closer to the album. Overall the songwriting is complex, dynamic and emotional. I still think "Ancient Dreams" is their best, but "Nightfall" actually has a very different feel and vibe to it, much more gloomy and with less of a power-metal feel.
I have the reissue done a few years ago, and it is very cool to see the album get such lavish treatment. It comes as a double CD in a jewel case with a cardboard slipcover. The second CD has some demo and live tracks, an interview with the band, and a video for "Bewitched." - all in all a very nice package and well worth the money. The booklet has live pics, liner notes, and a commentary from bassist/songwriter Leif Edling on each track. Plus of course the beautiful cover art by Thomas Cole.
Practically every doom recording since has had this album's fingerprints all over it. (Hell, Nile even copped the main riff from "The Well of Souls" for "In Their Darkened Shrines" – go listen if you don't believe me.) "Nightfall" still stands as a metal classic and a virtual textbook of doom metal. The first four Candlemass albums are essentials, and no metal collection is complete without them.
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