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In general, when I review music from a band with whom I am unfamiliar, I do not research them until I have had time to absorb their latest effort. In this way, I don’t compare their most recent work to their older music before I have given the newest album a chance. I have spent quite a bit of time listening to French power metal artist Nightmare through their latest, Dead Sun, which was released in January 2017. As I began to prepare for this review, I was fascinated to learn that the band has a history dating back to 1979 with nine other studio albums and two live albums. The current release, however, is the first to be recorded with only one of the original members (bassist Yves Campion) and the first to feature female vocalist Magali Luyten (Beautiful Sin, Beyond The Bridge, ex-Ayreon). A quick listen through some of the back catalog reveals that the band has remained in the power metal realm throughout their career but have grown into a fuller, more aggressive sound in recent years.
Dead Sun continues this progression with the percussion and bass providing a powerful foundation as the guitars weave blazing riffs under the commanding vocals of Luyten. From the first notes of the opening track, “Infected”, to the final seconds of the final song, “Starry Skies Gone Black”, the album packs a punch! Many are very catchy and I often get at least one of the tunes stuck in my head. Drummer Olivier Casula (Sandragon, ex-Thalidomide, The Seven Gates) is also new to this group and certainly makes his presence known, especially on tracks like “Red Marble & Gold” and the first single, “Ikarus”. Nightmare does indulge in a bit of musical exploration with “Serpentine” which has some thrash influences. The closest this project gets to a ballad is on “Seeds of Agony” and only then because it is more hard rock than power metal. Luyten‘s magnificent, raspy voice sounds just as beautiful in a husky growl as it does in the more melodic sections of the songs. With the tone of her voice being in the lower register, she should have no problem performing any of the older works the band may choose to do in the future.
Dead Sun is an excellent example of an established band reinventing itself. The additions of Luyten and Casula have inspired Nightmare to explore different influences and incorporate them into their own genre. The album sounds excellent due to outstanding production and mixing. I thoroughly enjoyed this album and will turn to it in the future when I am looking for some hard-hitting power metal. If you have been a fan of this band in the past, I think you will enjoy the direction they have taken. For the rest of us who have just discovered Nightmare, I think we have stumbled onto them at just the right time. I believe things will just improve as they move forward!