Nightfall is the second studio album by the Swedish doom metal band Candlemass, released on 9 November 1987 through Axis Records. After being dropped from the label Black Dragon Records, Candlemass were the first band signed to Axis. The group had a new line-up from their previous album including vocalist Messiah Marcolin, whose decisions became instrumental during the production and release stages of the album.
After being dropped from Black Dragon Records due to the disappointing sales of their previous album Epicus Doomicus Metallicus (1986), Candlemass became the first band signed to David Constable's British label Axis Records. Constable had decided to sign the band after being impressed with their demo tape for "Bewitched".
The group's line-up had changed since their previous studio recording. Jan Lindh had replaced drummer Mats Ekström who had left the group because he could not find enough time for rehearsals. Lead guitarist Lars Johansson had also joined the band. During a tour in 1987 with King Diamond, Johansson broke his arm and was temporariliy replaced by guitarist Mike Wead. The final new band member was vocalist Messiah Marcolin, who phoned Leif Edling to sing an a cappella version of "Solitude" as an audition.
Like the previous album, Nightfall was recorded at Thunderload Studios in Stockholm with Ragne Wahlquist as engineer. Wead's brief membership in Candlemass lead to him allegedly recording rhythm guitar, harmony and acoustic guitars and keyboards on the album, although the only thing that is confirmed by the band as his is the recording of his song "Black Candles". Marcolin's influence was strong and included the recording of the song "Marche Funèbre" on his suggestion, the band's choice of the album cover based on Thomas Cole's paintings "The Voyage of Life", and the title Nightfall, rejecting Edling's original title for the album Gothic Stone. The song "Samarithan" was originally written during the recording sessions for Epicus Doomicus Metallicus, but was rejected by former group member Mats Ekström.
After completing the sessions at Thunderload, which lasted from July to September 1987, the recordings were mixed by Mats Lindfors at Stockholm Recording Studio.
As like as the band's debut album, Nightfall was met with universal acclaim by both music critics and fans. In a contemporary review, Metal Forces editor Bernard Doe called the album "an essential buy for any true metal fan" and lauded Candlemass for mixing "some early Black Sabbath (circa Master of Reality), some early Rainbow (circa Rising) and some Metallica", and adding "plenty of their own original style to produce a unique sound." Rock Hard reviewed positively the album, but recognized that the "sluggish" rhythms and Marcolin's "clean and high voice" could not please everyone.
In a modern review, Metal Storm staff writer remarked the progress made by the band from their debut album in making "more complex and atmosphere/emotion-evoking" music and called Nightfall a "masterpiece." AllMusic's Eduardo Rivadavia review compared the album favorably to the group's previous work, stating that it "managed to break even more new ground by introducing the operatic bellowing of new vocalist Messiah Marcolin, whose religious lyrics found the perfect match in the slow, grinding power chords written by bassist Leif Edling." He found the work "cohesive", despite Candlemass "can't resist thrashing out just a tad" on the songs "At the Gallow's End" and "Dark Are the Veils of Death" Canadian critic Martin Popoff wrote that Nightfall sounds very similar to Candlemass' debut album and its style is a mix of "the slowest portions from Tony Iommi's first five years riffs", Trouble's "sleepiest moments" and St. Vitus' "downer ideas". He added that "a few uptempo ideas would have helped" to raise his score.
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