REVIEW: NIGHTMARE – “Dead Sun”
Nightmare is one of those bands that are hard to classify. Being the only constant member the founder and bassist Yves Campion, and being around since 1979 in one way or another, they’ve transitioned from a hard/heavy sound very characteristic to the 1980’s to a heavy/power approach with some keyboards in the early 2000’s, similar to a heavier and less catchy Thunderstone. Last year, longtime (ex-) drummer and vocalist Jo Amore left the frontman post and Marta Luyten (Beyond the Bridge, Frameshift) filled the spot, forcing yet another change in their sound. ‘Dead Sun’, 10th full length effort by these guys, will come out on November 25th via AFM Records and, while it doesn’t revamp completely the somewhat consolidated sound Nightmare has been playing for some time now, will definitely see the fans needing to adapt a little bit again.
Yves and Marta are accompanied by Frank Milleliri (guitars), Matt Asselberghs (guitars) and the also debuting Olivier Casula (drums). Marta’s voice provides a more modern and orthodox vibe than Amore’s, and the toned down guitars contribute to yet another change in the atmosphere and differs yet again a band’s album from its predecessor. The main formulas here are heavy and galloping riffs, loud bass mix – which is a constant in Nightmare’s albums (Yves is the leader of the band, what did you expect?) – And equally loud drumming. The hooks and choruses are somewhat constructed to be commercial, kind of like in that ‘this is modern European heavy metal, we are badass’ atmosphere that I don’t quite get, but works well with Marta’s partially generic ripped vocal lines; Songs like “Tangled in the Roots” and “Ikarus” illustrate well this atmosphere. There are decent to good tracks and a few mediocre ones which at the end of the day make for a forgettable album. Tracks such as “Of Sleepless Mind”, “Red, Marble & Gold” and “Indifference” are all sort of intertwined with one another and fall in the common place; better tunes like “Dead Sun” and “Seeds of Agony” deliver a refreshing and competent approach to the genre, though, as they offer good bridges, decent solos and worthy songwriting.
It feels to me that the instruments were mixed to fit Marta’s voice timbre, and not the other way around. This is, more often than not, dangerous and unnecessary, especially when we’re talking about a first timer in a band that already has a considerable history. The fact is that this turns out to be extremely harmful since it shows a lack of personality by Yves, who definitely sacrifices a lot to deliver the most easy to digest and commercial experience possible. Nevertheless, there are ace instrumental moments in the album, though,thanks primarily to the great twin-guitar work by Frank and Matt and a crystalline production job. Yves’ bass also provides a good amount of aggressiveness and Olivier was a good addition to the drumkit.
‘Dead Sun’ was most likely designed to go after a slice of the mainstream pie, which is more than OK. The main problem is, like I said above, sacrificing some of the originality and feeling in order to make mechanical and accessible music. Parallel to that, there are killer leads and riffs and a cool atmosphere to the effort. Personally, I don’t like the album and definitely wouldn’t buy it, but it most definitely has a lot of quality, even despite all these little bumps. Your mileage may vary, so if you are looking for top-notch albums for the genre you will not be amused, but if you’re only looking to have a good time, listen to some radio-friendly tunes and forget about your problems, this could work fine.