Review Summary: Metal for the light-hearted.
Nightingale, one of the many side projects by the now cult-metalist phenomenon Dan Swano, strikes on a much different chord than his other self-indulgent bands. You see, Swano is a man with multiple personality disorder and he plays this to his advantage with each band he performs in. If you are expecting a full on blast of Edge of Sanity or the wonderfully progressive stylings of Moontower
, you might as well just scream “Sell Out!” to one of the most unique frontrunners in the history of metal. The Breathing Shadow
will bring many surprises to Swano fanatics, and the The Breathing Shadow
shows an interesting side of a musician who is a closet retro geek.
Swano’s love for retro 80s electronic music/ power ballads and very few notes of distorted guitar are the first things fans will notice. I know a lot of you are sitting there whining about this fact but I will let you know that it’s more thoughtfully executed than your average cock-swinging hair metal impersonation. Instead of relying on the typical topics of drunken breakups and love-gone-terribly-wrong, Swano channels his efforts into mid-tempo tunes through clean, reverb drenched melodies that are beautifully intertwined together with his heartfelt, poetic lyrics. I would presume that fans of typical Swano outings can only handle these types of mid-tempo songs for so long unfortunately, but relieve is around the corner. Just as the song ‘Higher than the Song’ kicks in, Swano quickly changes things up and injects a powerful chorus with simplistic synth effect that feels catchy and yet relaxing at the same time. ‘Alone"’ and ‘A Lesson in Evil’ reinforces his love of 80s tinged melodies and are some of the standout highlights on the album. As ‘feel good’ as this sounds, Swano trips over his own game throughout the album, slowing things down to a crawl and utilizing ideas that just run out of steam. This is rather dominant in the instrumental ‘The Return to Dreamland’ where the listener gets to the point of questioning ‘Didn’t I hear this before five minutes ago’" Another unfortunate fact of the album is that Swano seems to have great difficulty matching his mighty roar (as heard on Edge of Sanity) with an equally beautiful singing voice, that seems to fall flat on its face throughout the entire album (for great contrasting vocals, refer to Opeth). Swano’s forced, baritone singing only dampens what could be an album with some replay value for a generation of 80s fairy metal lovers.
As many times as Swano has hit the mark over the course of two decades in the metal industry, there will always be a misstep by someone who has become very self indulgent with their side projects. Still, you have to give credit where credit is due. Swano is always taking chances with his music and that’s what counts in the end. The Breathing Shadow
is far from a disaster and could be looked at as a stepping stone to bigger and better things (especially in the vocal department). As proven evident on Purgatory Afterglow
, Swano is in full control of his metal repertoire. On The Breathing Shadow
, Swano has learned from his slight mistakes and used them as a catalyst to become an all around great metal musician.