Nightingale – Retribution

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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.

 

7.0/10

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DAN SWINHOE

Ektomorf- Retribution

 

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Ektomorf are one of those bands who stick to what they know. Back in Hungary in the mid-nineties, front man Zoltan Farkas stumbled upon a simple formula; groovy down-tuned riffs, tribal drumming, lashings of guttural aggression and the odd Nu-metal influence. Unfortunately Max Cavalera’s Soulfly got there first.

 

Queue 20-odd years and 9 albums worth of music many deride as some form of Cavalera worship, flattery, or plagiarism. Their latest effort, Retribution (AFM Records), does little to silence the critics, but gives the fans a well-crafted and energetic slab of what they like. Opener ‘ You Can’t Control Me’ is a pummelling slab of aggression, primal but satisfying. ‘Ten Plagues’ and ‘Who The Fuck Are You’ keep up the primal feel, tinges of 90s Machine Head and early Slipknot can be felt in amongst the mix.

 

Yes there’s little here that hasn’t been done already on various Sepultura, Soulfly or even previous Ektomorf albums, but the band keep the music up to a decent quality it’s rare to say that a whole album is basically free of duds. With a 45 minute run time, it doesn’t overstay its welcome. Few songs breaking the four-minute mark with every song short and straight to the point. There’s plenty of hooks and shout along moments throughout, whether it’s ‘Mass Ignorance,’ ‘Numb And Sick’ (featuring Ill Niño vocalist Cristian Machado) or the self-explanatory cover of Verbal Abuse’s ‘I Hate You,’ and even a mis-judged acoustic love song in ‘Collapsed Bridge.’

 

With Max taking his Tribe further into Death metal realms, Ektomorf sound more like classic Soulfly than Soulfly themselves do these days. Which is no bad thing. They’re a decent band who know what they do well and do it unapologetically time and time again. Retribution is no exception to that rule, and that’s ok.

 

6.5/10

Ektomorf on Facebook 

DAN SWINHOE