The album cover for Upon a Pale Horse may be misleading. This isn’t black metal. Below sounds like a mixture between Iron Maiden and any number of doom bands. It’s an interesting combination and one that works surprisingly well. Through its eight tracks Upon A Pale Horse takes you into some dark places, with plenty of slow, chunky riffs all played to a classic metal voice that lingers on the side of operatic just a little too often.
Below’s latest is expertly mixed, with a good amount of oomph behind its dark, heavy riffs that never gets in the way of Zeb’s great, Bruce Dickinson-esque vocals. Tracks like "The Coven" and "1000 Broken Bones" showcase the best of the record. Both songs are a little faster, but with a great, chugging central riff. These are dark, heavy tracks that are great fun to listen to time and time again. Indeed, the whole record is a blast. Upon a Pale Horse is really good fun despite its dark themes.
The record is generally faster than most doom I know of, but no less heavy. The thrash elements work very well with Zeb’s voice, but this can verge too often into the realms of cheesy operatics, the likes of which should have stayed in the 1980s. I’ve never been a particular fan of the piercing, high-pitched classic metal vocals. For those who appreciate this style of vocal delivery, however, Upon A Pale Horse is fantastic and simply not to be missed. I can look past it easily, the rest of Upon A Pale Horse is just that good. For years I’ve thought I’d like Iron Maiden if they were heavier - Below fill this void with aplomb.
Upon A Pale Horse is a great record. I’d never heard of Below before going into this album, but I really wish I had. It’s full of dark, heavy riffs and brilliant vocals (despite my indifference to tenor singing). This is an album that showcases a band who have nailed their sound. Their ability to play faster, slower or more atmospheric stuff is unprecedented in the world of contemporary doom. Who knew that adding a bit of thrash and Bruce Dickinson style vocals to doom could prove so fruitful?
Upon A Pale Horse Track Listing:
01. The Plague Within
02. Disappearing into Nothing
03. The Coven
04. Upon A Pale Horse
05. Suffer in Silence
06. Hours of Darkness
07. 1000 Broken Bones
08. We Are All Slaves