A new doom metal “supergroup” releasing a COVID-19 lockdown album in late 2022. That sentence, which describes MMXX‘ Sacred Cargo(Candlelight) in plain terms, will no doubt inspire a variety of different thoughts and feelings in people with an interest in such things. Some might dismiss the concept (album) out of hand. After all, the band’s name translates as “2020” and, well, not only is it not 2020 anymore, but the mere mention of that year is liable to inspire at least a wearied eye-roll if not a flashback to genuine out-and-out despair.
Survival Of The Sickest (Napalm Records) sees the return of Bloodbath, European death metal’s number one super-group, a band created in homage to the old school masters of the grisly art in 1998, by Jonas Renkse and Anders Nystrom of Katatonia, Mikael Akerfeldt of Opeth and Dan Swano (Edge Of Sanity).
Swedish multi-instrumentalist Dan Swanö has had a long and strange career. On the one hand, he’s known for ambitious melodic death metal with Edge of Sanity on the other, he’s been a stalwart of the progressive rock scene with the likes of Nightingale, who are back after a seven-year hiatus. Their new album, Retribution (InsideOut), it’s all about the melody.
This is the seventh album from the band – made up of Swanö on guitar, keyboards & vocals, his brother Dag on guitars and keyboard, Erik Oskarsson on bass and Tom Björn on drums. In their early days, Nightingale was a goth rock outfit unafraid to embrace their experimental progressive sides. Today, they’re more of a poppy, radio-friendly outfit with hints of 80s goth, 70s style synth and AOR.
From the upbeat opening of ‘On Stolen Wings’ to the gentle rock of ’27 (Curse Or Coincidence?)’ it’s clear Nightingale are sticking to the lighter side of the rock spectrum. Whether it’s the synth heavy ‘Chasing the Storm Away’ or the slow gallop of ‘The Voyage Of Endurance’, every track is essentially a catchy, hook laden pop songs and it’s not to get caught up in the moment.
Swanö’s vocals have always been a strong point, no matter which band he’s playing in. And while there are no death growls, his powerful, soaring voice suits the AOR style of Nightingale’s music perfectly. But despite being easy on the ears, there’s little on offer for anyone who doesn’t like their rock dad or radio friendly. Pretty much every song is either a mid-paced stomper or some kind of power or acoustic ballad. The song writing is all to a high standard, there’s little filler, but there’s nothing to get the blood pumping or the head banging.
It might lack any adventure or experimentation, but Retribution is an enjoyable and perfectly listenable album. Edge of Sanity fans may find little to enjoy, but anyone who enjoyed the melodic aspect of Witherscape‘s debut or any of Swanö’s prog-orientated releases will be pleased to find the man back on good form.