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Nightmare flex their muscles on this new album - 75%

TrooperOfSteel, June 28th, 2015
Written based on this version: 2012, CD, AFM Records

French melodic power metal band Nightmare was created way back in 1979 and 33 years later (including a 12 year hiatus from 1987 to 1999) the band is still going strong and producing some great metal music. After all those years, still 2 original members remain - bassist Yves Campion and vocalist (original drummer from 1979-1987, then vocalist from 1999 onwards) Jo Amore.

The second phase of Nightmare began in 1999 when Jo Amore and Yves Campion revived the band and changed musical styles to melodic power metal. They were signed by Napalm Records and released ‘Cosmovision’ in 2001, their first album in 16 years. Since then Nightmare have had a healthy career, with five more albums released since ‘Cosmovision’, and have toured with and opened for many top bands, including Saxon, Grave Digger, Manowar, Blind Guardian, After Forever and Dark Moor. Rounding out the band aside from Amore and Campion include guitarists Matt Asselberghs and Franck Milleliri, and drummer David Amore who is Jo’s younger brother. Matt Asselberghs is the newest member of the band, replacing J.C. Lefevre who left earlier in 2012.

Starting with their previous album ‘Insurrection’, Nightmare’s sound became much heavier, however retaining the melodic aspect of their power metal style that the band developed back in 1999. ‘Insurrection’ is where I myself came across Nightmare for the first time and enjoyed their aggressive and powerful guitar riffs and creative harmonies and sprinkles of symphonic metal that were wonderfully infused together. The new album, ‘The Burden of God’ continues this trend by Nightmare, which is quite similar to Dio, however with a more modern sound. Iced Earth, Eidolon and Brainstorm also comes to mind when listening to Nightmare’s material.

Really enjoying Jo Amore’s vocal style – aggressive yet melodic, passionate and bold, Amore has great range where he can deliver powerful and crushing mid-level notes, but can also break out the higher-pitched notes with much ease and elegance. The guitar work from Asselberghs and Milleliri is very well done indeed, both axemen delivering wonderfully creative, heavy and chugging riffs that all melodic power metal bands must use. While some songs on the disc border more on melodic than crushingly heavy, fans who want more brute force in their power metal music will have to endure a rollercoaster ride of ups and downs in terms of the heaviness of the guitar-work. Some songs can be deceiving, where the starts of a few tracks appear to be quite heavy, with big builds up and immense guitar riffs; however the tempo suddenly drops away for a more melodic style. It can be slightly frustrating when you are after top gear instead of second or third in some instances.

Nevertheless, ‘The Burden of God’ is a damn fine release and contains plenty of exciting, well written and creative tracks that have come from sheer experience of being in this game for quite some time. “Sunrise in Hell” is greeted by a heavy blasting riff, the track kicks off with a pummelling beat/riff combination. Amore’s vocals take off with passion and grunt as the music slams into you like a runaway freight train. A wonderfully melodic and memorable chorus adds another tick to the score sheet, giving the track an easy “A”.

Another ferocious and speedy riffs opens for the next track, the title track “The Burden of God”, again with a strong double bass smashing and melodic yet raspy vocals from Amore. A kick ass solo finishes the track off in high spirits and so far this album is off to a brilliant start. There are many more awesome tracks on ‘The Burden Of God’ including the bombastic, powerful and melodic “Crimson Empire”, the Dio/Heaven & Hell-esque “Children of the Nation”, the epic “The Dominion Gate (Part III) and the pounding “The Doomsday Prediction”.

Fans of this band should not hesitate to grab this release, as it is easily one of their best in their modern melodic power metal era; while fans of melodic power metal will definitely love what’s on offer here by Nightmare, particularly fans of Dio, Heaven & Hell, Brainstorm, Iced Earth, Eidolon, Crimson Cult, Adagio, Celesty, Kiuas and Seven Witches. This release and the ones before it show that Nightmare are a proven success in this melodic power metal genre, however somewhat unappreciated and totally underrated. Hopefully with this strong effort here, Nightmare can spread their word across the globe that they can go toe-to-toe with the more popular power metal bands around at the moment.

Originally written for www.themetalforge.com (2012)

Dark, emotive and heavy as hell. - 80%

Empyreal, July 12th, 2012

Nightmare is a French band that has been around since the early 80s, and it’s remarkable exactly how modern this all sounds in light of that fact. I guess they’re one of those bands like Angel Dust where they only have a few members from those old days, having long since replaced them, but the gap is a lot wider between this band’s past and present than Angel Dust’s. But I digress – what we have here is a stodgy, brick-heavy album of dark power metal in the Tad Morose style, a sort of subgenre which we haven’t seen much of in recent years. The Burden of God is in all aspects a very consistent and solid, albeit not groundbreaking, work.

This album is full of heavy, chugging rhythms and the Dio-esque vocals of Jo Amore, who is one of the high points of this album with his powerful and commanding performance. The production is good, solid and clear. Mostly this is at its best when the band reaches for this simple, subtle kind of sorrowful feel to the melodies – the whole album has this over-arching sadness to it, like the world’s coming to an end and Nightmare is witnessing it from their recording studio. I would have liked to see that elaborated on more.

Songs like the simple yet effective “Crimson Empire,” the dense “Shattered Hearts” and the epic build up of “The Preacher,” which showcases the band’s expert use of sound-clips, encompass everything Nightmare is good at and also have a very thick atmosphere of loss and apocalyptic fervor about them – very cool. “The Dominion Gate part III” is a seven-minute epic with lots of somber orchestrations and a big, haunting chorus – also one of the better tunes on here. If there’s a failing to this, it’s that none of these songs really ever catch fire – there are no big moments that truly captivate, though there are many that entertain well enough.

This is a solid 4-star album if I ever saw one. If more of these songs reached a little further, attained some higher climax to its build-up, then this could have easily been one of the better albums of the year, as the band certainly has the chops. But I’ll take a solid album like this one over a really inconsistent album like Nightmare’s previous work, the frustratingly lopsided Insurrection. If you’re a fan of dark, heavy-assed power metal, Nightmare do not disappoint in 2012. Recommended.

Originally written for http://www.metalcrypt.com

Doesn't quite shine, but gives a decent glow. - 75%

hells_unicorn, June 8th, 2012

Nightmare could be referred to as the first French metal band of serious consequence, both in traditional and power metal circles and they’ve maintained a reasonably consequential presence in the scene since being resurrected in the late 90s after more than a decade of being disbanded. But they have also been a band that seems to not quite follow through on things of late, opting for a modern sound that is more metallic than the likes of recent Sonata Arctica and Edguy output, yet slightly mired in the AOR trappings of recent Masterplan and Allen/Lande output. Ever since the exodus of co-founding guitarist Nicolas De Dominicis, they’ve veered away from their traditionally rooted sound for something a bit heavier, but also less organic and mystical.

The latest album manifestation of this outfit is largely an exercise in playing it safe, playing off the thick, meaty guitar and drum sound that has typified recent Helstar output, but merging it with a more melodically consonant demeanor and a heavily sleaze-infused vocal character. Basically Jo Amore steals the show with every single not he hits, melding a strong dose of attitude and edge with his gritty snarl that definitely gives Jørn Lande’s pipes a solid run for their money. But underneath this old school vibe is a lot of present day practices that takes things down a few pegs, particularly the down-tuned vibe of the guitar riffs, which has some elements of modern thrash to it, but largely sounds like a slightly too simple play on Symphony X’s sound, especially on the magnum opus of this album “The Dominion Gate (Part 3)”, the latest installment in an ongoing series since the album bearing the same name, and also the first one without their departed co-founding guitarist.

There is definitely a healthy dose of charm to this album, particularly but not limited to the somewhat more progressive elements in play. The keyboard work takes a refreshingly symphonic, supporting role rather than the usual mix of atmospherics and wild lead lines competing with the guitars. “Sunrise In Hell” and “The Burden Of God” represent the more agitated and faster side of this album’s largely mid-tempo paradigm, and largely build a pleasing middle ground between Mid-Eastern musical trappings and 80s oriented sing along choruses. The rest of the album tends to be a bit more rhythmically precise and subdued, particularly the heavily orchestrated and formulaic “The Preacher”. The smaller parts of the whole tend to resemble the minimalism of latter day Dio output, and echo the similarly dark guitar tone tendencies, but there is even less reliance on the lead guitar lines to outright drive the songs in favor of Jo Amore’s continual dominance of presence.

By all standards, this is a decent album, but it doesn’t quite reach out and compel the listener to come back the way “Cosmovision” did. Granted, said album was something of a perfect storm of originality between the conglomeration of early 2000s speeding mayhem, old school 80s guitar sounds, and a heavily theatrical production by a renowned name in black metal circles to make it sound like nothing ever heard before. This album is more along the lines of an occasional joy to hear, but not quite something that would really stand out from the pack. It’s far from the massive plummet from greatness that many experienced post 2003 in this sub-genre, but it just falls short of closing the deal and truly delivering the goods.

Pure Nightmare - 90%

Incantation, June 5th, 2012

I must say that while I enjoyed Insurrection, I was concerned for the direction Nightmare was headed in. Clearly my concern was unfounded since The Burden of God was amazing. I was pleased with every single track on this album and I don't say that about too many albums, but this is truly deserving and reminded me far more of Genetic Disorder in its overall tone and atmosphere. If you liked Genetic Disorder, you'll love The Burden of God.

Nightmare has always had some amazing riffs, and one of my favorites on this album was on the title track, The Burden of God. While it did sound similar to the one on The Winds of Sin off Genetic Disorder, that is not a complaint. This heavy galloping riff that starts off the song is by far one of my favorite riffs I have ever heard and I could listen to it all day and night without it ever getting old. The rest of the album is filled with killer riffs and has a very heavy feel to it, which you just don't see with too many power metal bands and I love it.

In this album we are also graced with The Dominan Gate Pt III, another awesome track with pounding riffs and an awesome solo. The combination of these heavy riffs, wicked drum work, and of course Jo Amore's amazing vocals make this one of my new favorite albums. On the subject of drum work, I think it should be noted that it was exceptional. It's hard-hitting, heavy drum work that at times seems to gallop in a very catchy manner. The vocals, as I mentioned, are amazing, but it's nothing different from Nightmare's previous albums (Astral Deliverance forward). Also, the lyrics are very interesting, and for some reason what really captured my attention was in the intro track, Gateways to the Void. When he says, "your destiny is far worse than any nightmare", I thought to myself, "oh hell yeah, this is going to be a good album". It's just an interesting line and of course uses the band name; while it's not hard to fit 'nightmare' into a sentence, I still found it to be rather creative and well done.

My only complaint is the lack of choirs which I so enjoyed on many of their other albums.

The weakest track on this album is Crimson Empire, not a bad track by any stretch of the imagination, but if I had to pick the weakest track, it would be this one. This is because compared to the other tracks it's got a more generic riff with nothing too special about it. I don't know if I would say boring and it's a good track, but just doesn't blow my mind like the rest of the album does.

Overall, this is an awesome album and for anyone who enjoys what Nightmare has done previously or just enjoys heavy power metal that is very riff-focused, this is an album you should definitely pick up.