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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.

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