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Straight-forward effort, but as enjoyable as ever - 91%

Kirbzy, July 1st, 2007

Nightingale originally started as Dan Swanö's solo gothic rock project, and with every album has developed their sound into a progressive rock influenced style of heavy metal. 2007’s ‘White Darkness’ sees most of the gothic influences that the band carried through most of their albums gone, and it ends up being a very straight-forward yet enjoyable listening experience. The song-writing on the album has been mainly done by Dan’s brother Dag Swanö, with Dan himself only contributing the rare lyric or bridge. Dag is a 70s man and it is blatantly portrayed in all of the songs as they all follow a similar pattern. The keyboard is extensively used, all of the songs contain catchy choruses and the album has much more of a pop vibe than any of Nightingale’s previous efforts.

Once again, Dan Swanö’s vocals are flawless and are the major driving factor of the album’s appeal. His voice is clean, crisp and melodic. It has not deteriorated at all from previous efforts and is as pleasant as ever to listen to. His vocals are literally some of the best that I have ever heard from any band, and you can tell that he gave it everything in his performance because there is always a high level of emotion in every word he sings. It is one of the greatest generators of atmosphere in the songs and blends in very well with the tones of all of the instruments. The lyrics are all related to depression, and it seems to be often contradicted by the music. Just like Dan Swanö's solo effort Moontower, many songs have happy Rush influenced keyboard melodies, however they at times seem out of place. Since the lyrics are all perfectly audible, it often puts a dent in the atmosphere having Dan sing about ‘being lost in the fields of life’ whilst the keyboards happily go about their business. Even so, the actual lyrical content is top class and looks like it is something that people who have ever gone through depression can relate to.

Even though many of the songs are similar structure-wise, there is enough variation of other elements to keep you listening through the whole album. For instance, some songs will have a solo whilst some will not, or the keyboards will feature more than the guitars and vice-versa. Some of the songs are slow and ballad like, whilst others are moderate paced and follow a very progressive layout. My favourite track on the album is ‘One Way Ticket’, which manages to pretty much have everything in one not overly long song. It starts off with an acoustic guitar melody and Dan’s perfectly suited vocals to set the atmosphere. It gets heavier come the chorus and after the second verse there is a solo, which is reminiscent of the one from Nightingale’s most well song ‘Alonely’. The transition to the solo is one of the high points of the album as it portrays the intended emotions perfectly.

Every song on the album has a chorus, and each is unexpectedly memorable and catchy. It will take some effort to get them out of your head once you’ve heard them. All of the instruments are highly melodic, but not cheesy at all. As you’d expect with a Swanö project, the musicianship is top notch. Whilst it isn’t anything spectacular, every instrument does what it needs to do. The drums do their job without being dominant or annoying and the guitar work is consistent and attractive. Most fans wouldn’t be put off by the major song-writing change, since some of their most popular tracks in their discography were written by Dag anyway. It’s recommended to any fan of melodic metal who aren’t put off by the fact that the music is very accessible and can easily be enjoyed by non-metal fans as well.