Review Summary: Tomas Lindberg finds a vehicle that has to fight just to keep up with him.
Nightrage is a melodic death metal band that finds its origins in the city of Thessaloniki located in Greece. Founder and guitarist Marios Iliopoulos formed a “mini” super group of sorts for Nightrage’s debut album that featured Per Möller Jensen from The Haunted as a guest drummer and most notably Tomas Lindberg, the popular vocalist from the legendary band At The Gates. In addition to a powerful cast of metal performers, Tom S. Englund--the voice of progressive power metal band Evergrey-- also offers clean vocals on a handful of the tracks throughout Sweet Vengeance
There’s no denying that the main draw for death metal fans will probably be Tomas’ inclusion into the band; as it turns out, he doesn’t disappoint in the least. His familiar snarl found on Slaughter of the Soul
has aged wonderfully within the eight years; all the more enjoyed when glossened with a strong coat of production paint. Throughout the course of Sweet Vengeance
, Lindberg delivers tortured and abstract poetry, that while seeming ambiguous and distant from the listener, proves to be written quite well with hidden meanings and puzzles for those that bother to look into the meanings.
While it could be argued that the rest of Nightrage serves as a mere vehicle for the vocalist, the remaining band members do turn out to be quite suitable and competent for the task of writing pleasant and appealing material. The instrumentals to be found on Sweet Vengeance
aren’t exactly the densest or most frantic in nature, but they are tight and do a reasonably fine job of filling in the void behind Lindberg. Guitarists Gus and Marios deliver driving riffs from the get go in opener “The Tremor” that really engage the listener into the music with ease and efficiency. Elsewhere, on “Elusive Emotion” the duo’s melodic aspect is put to good use as a relatively slow-paced riff is followed by an addictive, albeit simple guitar lead. A few acoustic interludes dot the album as well, quickly bringing to mind Opeth or the melodic death metal bands of the 90s. Guitar solos, while not plentiful, are catchy and memorable--particularly that of “Hero” which recalls Van Halen’s style and execution in delivery.
Overall the songs to be found on Sweet Vengeance
are generally consistent and well-done. However, certain aspects of the music raise some issues that need to be mentioned. For one, the rhythm section of the album is nothing to rally home about, even though they prove to be fairly adequate at the task of keeping the beat and pace with the guitarists. A few more interesting fills here and there would have probably aided the overall sound of the album. Also, the band’s bassist is under-developed in the song mix, a problem that is quite prevalent now-a-days. One must also mention that the inclusion of Evergrey’s vocalist on some of the tracks turns out to be quite awkward and poorly implemented in practice. “Hero” and “Ethereal” suffers from unwise vocalist transitions that happen to the leave the listener lost mid-track; in fact, the only real dud to be found on the track listing happens to be “Circle of Pain”, sounding as if it is played and sung by a completely different band given its slow tempo and odd vocal melody from the clean vocalist; both of which cannot be found anywhere else on Sweet Vengeance
In summary, Nightrages’ Sweet Vengeance
is a promising debut that brings hope of great things in the future of the band. In this case being a “super group” allows them to forgo much of the growing pains that many bands have to deal with as they progress; in turn, this instills hope that Nightrage can grow exponentially with each subsequent release. However, a problem arises when the band members are not equally proportioned in skill as the guitarists rise above the rhythm section, and Tomas, in turn, rises above the duo with his exceptional vocal performance. This causes the instruments of Nightrage to become a mere vehicle for Lindberg in which the songs surmise to be no more than a platform for his delivery to the audience. These relatively small complaints aside, Sweet Vengeance
is still a good album that features the essentials played and delivered competently throughout the recording. Those searching for a less commercialized side of the melodic death metal should look no further as the album recalls the sound of the bands in that respective genre from the 90s. Let’s just hope that the band’s future sees them progressing equally as a band and not just all to one side. After all, time has shown that bands that lag behind themselves and can’t seem to keep pace with their own members tend to fall apart all too quickly.