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I’m no longer a shadow - 90%

amiamok, January 23rd, 2016

Nightfall Overture is mostly a 10th-anniversary compilation of re-recorded songs from Nightingale's previous albums. The songs have been modified substantially with the probable intention of making a fresh start in the new millennium.

Nightingale was initially the solo brainchild of multi-instrumentalist Dan Swano, which turned into a collaborative project with his brother Dag. Most know Dan as a guitarist and/or vocalist from the death metal bands Edge of Sanity and Bloodbath and as a studio professional specialising in mixing and mastering. In contrast, Nightingale is a hybrid of progressive and hard rock with hints of gothic and album-oriented rock.

The first eight songs comprise two from each of the first four albums. 'Losing Myself' is an Edge of Sanity cover, and 'Better Safe Than Sorry' is a brand new song. From my sampling of the first four albums, I noticed that the songs have been thoroughly re-done, with changes to vocal melodies, lyrics, guitar solos, and in some cases, the song structure itself. Dan took this opportunity to give the songs better production and instrumentation, and I say he did a fine job with that.

The overall sound of the band can be described as highly polished, catchy hard rock with persistent but subtle synthesisers. The first third of the album carries a gothic feel with images of bleak wintry landscapes and a melancholy atmosphere. The music fits like a glove to the lyrics, which tell a story of murder, regret, and rebirth. The mood lightens just a bit towards the middle, reaching a bittersweet nostalgic moment on 'The Glory Days', with 'Shadowland Serenade' providing an epic finish. The opener 'Nightfall Overture' and 'Shadowland Serenade' are the best showcase of this band's mature songwriting.

The riffing is heavily rooted in '70s and '80s rock, which is visible from the strumming patterns and grooves. The guitar solos are intelligently crafted, with a focus on trying to fit in to the song structure rather than standing out. I think the hallmark of a great performer is to make what they do seem effortless, and this is embodied fully in this release. The songs can seem simple at first listen, but people who like to go deeper are sure to be rewarded. The bass and drums put up an understated but solid performance, letting the vocals and guitars shine.

A highlight of this release, apart from the near-perfect sound production, is Dan's voice. It is rich, full-bodied with a solid low end, and has a charming nasal quality. His vibrato is to die for. The clean voice he uses in Nightingale is in stark and gratifying contrast to the harsh growling heard in his most well-known work. Any singer, rock/metal fan or not, should check out this album just to hear Dan sing.

Running just under 45 minutes, this album easily manages to hold the listener's attention with its haunting soundscapes and catchy melodies. I highly recommend this compilation to anyone looking for an introduction to Nightingale.