Review Summary: Traditional power metal, with slight symphonic elements to boot, this is the ideal 2012 power metal album.
Nightmare is a power metal band hailing from Grenoble, France. Formed in 1979, They are proven veterans of the metal scene, but the band has only begun playing power metal since reforming after a long hiatus that stretched from the mid 80’s and ended in 1999. To date, the band has released nine studio albums, and has received much critical praise for some of their more recent works. With the band’s ninth studio album, they take a tentative step into symphonic territories, while still retaining their traditional roots.
Right from the onset, Nightmare display heavy, energetic, and highly theatrical material. While the band still has a knack for traditional power metal song structures, the band’s heavy riff driven material is backed by subtle use of keyboards, melodic guitar playing, and harmonizing vocals. This slight use of keyboards and more symphonic elements is a new element the band included in their sound, and they pull it off well without it becoming overdone and besmirching the band traditional roots. While certainly not re-inventing the wheel, Nightmare displays a refined approach to songwriting, with memorable riffs, catchy hooks and choruses, and a truly compelling vocal performance from front-man Jo Amore. Each band member has adequate time to show off their abilities. Tight drumming, infectious guitars, and a compelling vocal performance, what’s not to love?
The album also has adequate production, with all the instruments audible and clear. The guitar tone is perfect, and just the right amount of attention is given to the bass. The album also displays good track listing, with each song flowing into the next with ease. The album also has some variation with regards to tempo and style. There are the more heavier aggressive tracks, as well as some soft ballad like tracks and everything in between, so the albums overall sound never becomes to cumbersome for the listener. The album length is also just right, as it doesn’t feel to short, nor to stretched out. There is no filler to be found here either, with exception made towards the short and unnecessary spoken-word intro.
With all that said, this is pretty much the ideal power metal of 2012. All of the subtle elements we have come to enjoy from the genre are present, but this may also be the albums singular weakness. While many of the band’s contemporaries expand their sound into more progressive territories, Nightmare have found a sound that suits them best, and are settling in. This effort is certainly not a progressive affair, instead it will remind us of why we started listing to the genre in the first place, and it give us hope that true music will live on forever, so long as bands like Nightmare keep baring the torch for metal in years to come.