Originating in Thessaloniki, Greece, under the fleet-fingered generalship of Marios Iliopoulos (the bands only stalwart and ever-present) and six-string superstar guitarist Gus G. (Firewind/Ozzy), Nightrage have had a fair few well-known faces bolster their ranks and raise their profile throughout the years, including, amongst others, Per Möller Jensen (The Haunted) and Tomas “At The Gates” Lindberg. Yet, despite the constant turn over, through the sheer force of Iliopoulis’ will and personality, the band has maintainted both its sound and style.
And so to opus number six, The Puritan (Despotz), and yet another line-up change with Ronnie Nyman grabbing the poisoned chalice-shaped nettle of the microphone stand, his early Anders Fridén stylings slotting in seamlessly with an assured and aggressive voice snarling over another dose of the confident melodeath we’ve come to expect from Nightrage. Steeped in the fast riffing, melodic leads and off-beat snare snaps that define post Slaughter of the Soul (Earache) Melodic Death Metal, The Puritan displays all the expected genre trappings, with Nightrage comfortable in laying out a heavily In Flames and At The Gates influenced sound.
Yet, this was the sound of the late 90’s… in the lead up to the turn of the millennium, you couldn’t swing a cat without it picking up the print ink of review upon review comparing bands to the main protagonists of the NWOSDM sound and nearly two decades on it’s disappointing to hear respected outfits slavishly reproducing a style that belongs to yesterday. There were too many bands doing it back then to need any more doing it now.
Iliopoulos knows how to do this melodeath thang til his fingers bleed, and The Puritan is an effectively crafted slab of Gothenburg jagged riffing, harmonized guitars and throaty vocals. For a band that has rubbed more than shoulders with some big hitters and genre-definers, while the proficiency is there, that extra dose of depth of thought and invention in song-writing that would move Nightrage from just A.N.Other band to genuine players, is lacking.
Even seventeen years ago this would have sat as one of the pack alongside your Withering Surface’s, A Canorous Quintet’s and Crown of Thorns as follower, not leader.