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15 years after their debut, and 10 years after their last full length album Necrodynamic, Night In Gales are finally back with Five Scars. And not only are they back, they are back in best shape! Leaving behind the more experimental and thrashy phase of Nailwork (2000) and Necrodynamic (2001), the "Tragedians" return to their melodic death metal roots.
A good lot of the riffs on this album raises sylphlike memories, in particular "This Neon Grave" and the title track - which is definitely not a bad thing, considering that I always loved the melodic style of Towards The Twilight and Thunderbeast. While I did (and do) enjoy Necrodynamic, too, the album was just not what I expected from a Night In Gales release, and it's good to hear that the band has refound it's unique melodies that were lost 10 years ago.
Not only are the melodies back, but they are more dramatic, melancholy and emotional than ever. "Days Of The Mute" could pass as the album's ballad (together with "The Tides Of November"), with it's tragic and anthemic leads recalling the "Heralds Of Starfall". "Five Scars" could have been on the masterpiece album Towards The Twilight, and I confess I particularly enjoy the thrashy part in the middle of "Endtrip".
The lyrics kind of remind me of Halford's Resurrection album - not because of the actual contents, but because of the numerous quotations from songs published earlier in the career. Where the metal god alludes to numerous Judas Priest titles, Björn reiterates titles from the earlier albums. This gives Five Scars a retrospective quality in both the lyrics and the music - with the difference that while the lyrics seem to quote most frequently Nailwork and Necrodynamic, the music refers more to Sylphlike and Towards The Twilight.
Despite all the praise, the album is not perfect, which is particularly tragic since most of my criticism challenges the sound of the album. Songwriting and performance are flawless - some might miss the energetic breaks of Thunderbeast, but Five Scars is rock solid and stirring composing skill. Sadly, the sound is very modern - so don't expect a lot of bass frequencies coming from the triggered bass drum. The drums in general sound very processed and overcompressed, which steals a good bit of punch. The mix is very vocal-centered, I personally would have enjoyed the guitars more up front and dominant, but that's just a matter of taste. The album sounds transparent and modern without polishing the life out of the material.
Five Scars is the logical and consequent successor to Thunderbeast and thus opens brackets around Nailwork and Necrodynamic. It's good to hear that the days of the mute are over, Night In Gales are back and better than ever. Go get some death, ten thousand tragedians can't be wrong!