Album Reviews

Nightmare – The Aftermath Review

nightmare_cover

Released By: AFM Records

Release Date: June 10, 2014

Genre: Heavy/Power Metal

Links: http://www.nightmare-metal.com/home.php

 

Line Up:

Jo Amore – Vocals

Matt Asselberghs – Guitars

Franck Milleliri – Guitars

Yves Campion – Bass

David Amore – Drums

 

Tracklisting:

1. The Aftermath (Intro)

2. Bringer of a No Man’s Land

3. Forbidden Tribe

4. Necromancer

5. Invoking Demons

6. I Am Immortal

7. Digital DNA

8. Ghost in the Mirror

9. The Bridge is Burning

10. Mission for God

11. Alone in the Distance

 

Nightmare is one of those bands who have quietly been producing great albums for a very long time. In fact, with the release of their 9th full length album The Aftermath, the French band is also celebrating their 35th anniversary, albeit in a slightly different form from when they began. Back in the mid 80’s they released two albums before disappearing for a while and then suddenly re-emerging in 2001, with Cosmovision, which marked a transition into more of heavy/power metal hybrid, where before they had been known as a traditional heavy metal band. Though the biggest difference between the two eras of Nightmare is that their original drummer Jo Amore took over as lead singer, while his brother David took over the drums. In the past 13 years they have delivered the goods time and time again, with gems like The Dominion Gate and Genetic Disorder being career highlights. Their previous release The Burden of God showed the band moving into a much darker, more streamlined sound compared to past works, and with The Aftermath this continues.

Nightmare (in their current form, at least) have always belonged to the less cheesy side of power metal, and this album picks up where The Burden of God left off in emphasizing the heavier side of their music while still leaving room for epic, insanely catchy choruses. Aside from the choruses, this is about as far from “flower metal” as an album in this style could possibly be. The guitars are very thick, powerful and at times the riffs border on modern thrash. For the most part it sounds like a continuation of the darker sound of their previous album, with even some light symphonic elements carrying over, but roughly half the songs have some brief sections where the riffs go into more modern territory than ever before, and while I was initially thrown off, especially by the track “Digital DNA”, over the course of several listens I find this album to be equal parts familiar and refreshing. In general I’d say the first half sounds more conventional, while the later tracks have quite a few surprises.

Compared to The Dominion Gate and Genetic Disorder, The Burden of God seemed to have less power metal, and this is also true of The Aftermath. Where the two former albums seemed to emphasize the up tempo songs more, the latter was often much slower and more methodical. This is also true of The Aftermath, with the entire section from track 5 until track 9 having very little speed at all, which may disappoint fans of their more power metal oriented albums. Even still, the choruses frequently keep the music at least somewhat in familiar territory, and there are some excellent faster songs towards the beginning and end. The Burden of God was my introduction to the band and initially it blew me away only to get slightly weaker over time as I heard the three albums preceding it, but I have to say the more I hear this album the more I’m impressed with it. I think the riffs are more powerful, the choruses more memorable, and the songwriting strikes a balance between being immediately engaging and having some songs that get better over time.

I really couldn’t imagine hearing a Nightmare album without Jo Amore as the singer. I’m sure he wasn’t a bad drummer either, but I’m glad he decided to take over the mic because he is one hell of an awesome singer. He has a very deep and raspy voice, which particularly enhances the more aggressive sections, but on the choruses he switches to a much smoother delivery which is equally impressive. Jo is the kind of singer who you can always count on to elevate a song if the music ever starts to get boring. That usually isn’t the case with Nightmare anyway, but even on the best songs his voice is the one thing that always stands out the most.

After the brief title track (and yes, it is in fact that generic, seemingly mandatory intro track that doesn’t do much of anything,) things kick into high gear immediately with “Bringer of a No Man’s Land”, one of the faster, more immediately satisfying songs on the album, with a mixture of explosive riffs and an unbelievably epic chorus. While that song and mid-tempo tracks “Forbidden Tribe” and “Invoking Demons” should sound familiar to Nightmare fans, others show the band experimenting just a bit. Of particular note are the growls on “Ghost in the Mirror”. This may not surprise people too much because they did use growls before on The Dominion Gate, but here the growls sound very weird and can initially be off putting. The song itself is also a bit of an oddball, but over time it has grown on me. Elsewhere, “Necromancer” and “Mission for God” are fast paced power metal tracks with some slight thrash elements to them, especially the main riff of the former, and the section just before the chorus on the latter. Both tracks are highlights. There aren’t any weak songs on the album, though I can see the slow, plodding “Digital DNA” throwing some people off. I initially hated it, but over time the complicated rhythms and thrashy riffs won me over. Pairing it together with “Ghost in the Mirror” is a bold move, though, as they are certainly two of Nightmare’s more unique songs.

While I initially feared this would be one of my less positive reviews, in the end The Aftermath has proven to be yet another excellent album in an impressive run for Nightmare. Fans of heavy/power with an emphasis on the more aggressive side of both genres are highly recommended to give this a try. I don’t like it quite as much as The Dominion Gate or Genetic Disorder, but I think it’s at least as strong as The Burden of God, if not slightly better.

 

Written by Travis

Ratings    Travis    8/10

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