Review Summary: Another Piece Of Gold.
Nightingale is the project that has displayed Dan Swano's softer side and his love of Progressive Rock, and has arguably become one of his most well known projects with the exception of his work in the death metal realm with Edge of Sanity. Straight off from The Breathing Shadow,Which was Nightingales first and so far , only attempt; at playing gothic rock, Dan Swano teamed up with his brother Dag and decided to take the project into a new progressive oriented direction.
The Closing Chronicles is the album that displays a darker side to this love of all things progressive; as it is without doubt the darkest album that Nightingale has released thus far. A casual listener of Nightingales first album and then this one, without knowing who the band was, would be forgiven for thinking they were two different entities. Whilst The Breathing Shadow had a kind of dark energy The Closing Chronicles instead takes a far more laid back approach, introducing keyboard atmospherics and the piano into the bands sound spectrum. This new sound really is what contributes to making this album the darkest and most emotional Nightingale release; and is handled extremely well by both Dan and Dag throughout. Prime examples of this being Thoughts From A Stolen Soul, So Long (Still I Wonder) and Intermezzo.
The track lengths seperate this from other Nightingale releases, as two of the tracks stretch to nine minutes in length, and are easily the standouts of the album. Both display this newfound use of atmosphere and keyboard extremely well as on each Dan creates soundscapes that work to great effect, not just because they work well on their own, but the fact that it acts as something as a backbone for the rest of the music, letting it flourish and give it life. Dan and Dags guitar work functions in a similar way, showing admirable restraint and doesn't really get to flashy or impressive, but more than makes up for it in how it contributes to the overall tone.
Two of the tracks are out and out rock tracks and are the only that display Nightingale at their most energetic, they juxtapose against the longer, atmospheric tracks and are also highlights, especially Steal The Moon, an extremely upbeat song and a ray of sunlight on an otherwise incredibly dark album. The musicianship throughout is, instead of atmospheric and laid back, incredibly energetic and cant help but make you feel good inside when you listen.
The album also notable for another reason as well, it is a conceptual album. Conceptual albums have always been something of a fragile thing for most bands, as, for the most part, they tend to approach it as something of a magnum opus. The result at best does indeed go down as the bands classic material, or an aimless, bloated, direction less bore counted as a stiff "Trying too hard" attempt. The execution here, however, is wildly different and this different approach is what really elevates the album to new heights. Dan wastes no time in long drawn out intros or sound effect interludes to support the story he is telling and instead opts to convey the story through vocals and atmosphere only. This approach does occasionally slip up, as witnessed by Intermezzo, easily the weakest track on here.
Going in a completely different direction than originally intended is always a challenge for any band and here Dan manages to take that approach admirably, easily making this one of the best Nightingale releases so far and a superior offering than The Breathing Shadow. Essential listening for any fan of Dan Swano.