These days, the mention of French Heavy Metal results in essentially one band as an answer – Gojira. They, of course, were not the first Metal band in France and have a decently long, although probably not esteemed, history of the style in their home country. One of the founders is still hanging around now for nearly 40 years.
Nightmare was founded in 1979 and has gone through numerous vocalists, drummers, and guitarists with bassist Yves Campion as the lone original member left today. No matter how things have transpired, Nightmare’s latest Dead Sun on AFM Records is a blistering slab of heavyweight Power Metal. Without having done any research on the band, I started putting it in a constant rotation. I was impressed. When I finally decided to learn a little more about Nightmare, I found to my surprise that the vocalist is Maggy Luyten (Beautiful Sin, Beyond The Bridge, ex-Ayreon) and she pulls off an outstanding performance. She has rocketed to the top of my respected female vocalist list along side Floor Jansen. She is simply fantastic.
Playing an aggressive version of Power Metal with the occasional Thrash tendency, Nightmare proves to be a healthy dose of pure Metal. Opener Infected sets the stage for Dead Sun as a song with a variety of tempos, excellent shredding, and in your face vocals. It would be difficult from this song to think the band has existed for so long, as there are plenty of modern aspects of the music that show Nightmare to be fresh lacking any indications of age. Sleepless Minds reinforces this impression as does the groovy Tangled in the Roots. Nightmare’s seamless blend of styles makes for a great listen, pretty much no matter the song. Red Marble Gold and Ikarus will force some headbanging with their respective outstanding riffs and pummeling rhythm work. Ikarus additionally features an imminently likeable melody.
Indifference pounds and plods along, producing a feeling of foreboding until the chorus comes along. The title track is decent enough, but other than the cool name, it really doesn’t stand out from the rest. On the other hand, Inner Sanctum has a dark feel and some Thrashy elements, as well as a superb chorus, that make it one of the better tracks. Luyten certainly does an admirable job on this song. Seeds of Agony borders on being a ballad and is one of the less aggressive tracks here. Unfortunately Nightmare employs a gimmick I don’t care much for – the children’s choir singing the chorus. Cheesy, weak, and laughable, it’s the one moment on Dead Sun that makes me cringe.
The penultimate track, Serpentine, proves to be one of the best among the 11 on the album. Perhaps the Thrash elements have something to do with it. All around a great song. Closer Starry Skies Gone Black stands as a pillar of the album. Strong from beginning to end, it must also be considered a highlight of Dead Sun.
Dead Sun continues to grow on me. So far 2017 is off to a good start with such a strong album from Nightmare. Worth looking in to.
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