Released: 2000, Black Mark Production
Reviewer: Nathan Robinson
Yet another one of my hotly anticipated albums! The third Nightingale album has finally been released, much to the delight of many of the band’s fans, including myself. If you didn’t already know, Nightingale is the work of musical genius Dan Swano and his older brother Dag (a.k.a. Tom Nouga). Dan performs vocals, drums, rhythm and lead guitar, and keyboards, while Tom handles bass, lead and rhythm guitar, and keyboards. Nightingale is not for the average metalhead. Resembling nothing of Edge of Sanity, Pan-thy-monium, Infestdead, Bloodbath, and many of Dan’s other death metal projects/bands, Nightingale is a cross between progressive rock, pop, and gothic styles of music. Definitely more accessible than anything else he has done, with the exception of Unicorn. The first two albums, The Breathing Shadow and The Closing Chronicles, combined Dan’s emotional and powerful clean vocals with atmospheric and emotional guitars and keyboards and slow to midpaced drumming. It took me a few listens to each album to really appreciate Nightingale’s music. The vocals and guitar work instantly grabbed me, but it was the drum machine and general style of music that took a little getting-used-to. But being captured by the infectious guitars and vocals, I kept spinning both CDs until I became hooked on Nightingale!
The new album takes off right where the second album The Closing Chronicles left off. The dark, gothic elements found on the first album The Breathing Shadow are absent. I miss the atmospheric elements of The Breathing Shadow, which provided some great late night tunes of disappointment and despair. In fact, I is considerably more upbeat and “happy” than the debut. Sure there are some sad elements once in a while, but overall, the progressive and heavier elements of The Closing Chronicles have been expanded on instead. Despite the title, “Still in the Dark” is pretty uplifting, and one of the heaviest Nightingale songs. Back to the slower side, “The Game” is pretty much in line with past Nightingale tunes, and is a sad, emotional song with some phenomenal vocal melodies. And just when you thought “Still in the Dark” was the heaviest you were going to get, “Game Over” crashes down on you with it’s mighty doomed detuned guitars! Fucking awesome! “Alonely” incorporates one of my favorite instruments: the acoustic guitar! Again, it’s another sad song in line with older Nightingale material. In fact, Dag originally wrote this song about 15 years ago! Acoustic guitar also appears in “I Return”, which Dan originally wrote for Odyssey, but was held back due to its more “commercial” sound. Well, maybe more commercial than the Odyssey material, but I don’t expect to hear this song on Lite FM anytime soon, as there’s some heavier moments within. But do you want something heavier? How about “Dead or Alive”? Hell yes, this song just rules! It is definitely my favorite on the album. First of all, the heaviest moments in Nightingale’s career are in this song. In between the heavily distorted portions lie some light, atmospheric guitar melodies that sound like the work on the first album that touched me so much. Add to this some soaring, powerful vocals too. Closing the album is the instrumental “Breathing”, an obvious tie into the leading track “Nightfall Overture” off the debut album The Breathing Shadow both in title and music, as elements of “Nightfall…” are present in “Breathing”.
Also missing from the first album is the drum machine. Dan is quite a solid drummer, and his playing on I is no exception. Guitars on the album are similar to The Closing Chronicles and are more punchy than normal. Lead guitars still soar with their heavenly melodies, and at times they even remind me of some of the leads in the Pan-thy-monium material. Keyboards run throughout the album, and they give the songs that classic ‘70s rock sound. Dan’s vocals are soulful and just plain captivating! They make you want to memorize the lyrics just to sing along. And I can finally do this because this is the first time lyrics have been included with a Nightingale album! Kick ass! And if that wasn’t enough, Dan has included lyrics for all three albums into the booklet!!! Yeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaahhhhhh!!! How can you sing along without lyrics?? Lyrically, all three Nightingale albums are tied together into a huge concept trilogy. I couldn’t tell you what it’s all about because I’ve only gotten through the lyrics once. Normally, I get turned off when it comes to concept albums. But Nightingale rules, so I found much joy in listening back to the first two albums and following along with the lyrics. And I is actually the beginning of the trilogy, so the closing instrumental “Breathing” presents a nice tie into the next part of the trilogy, which would be the debut album.
I find Nightingale’s I to be another awe-inspiring piece of music from the musical genius of the Swano brothers. This album is an absolute must for Nightingale fans, and something fans of Dan’s clean vocals and exceptional songwriting should check out. If you want pure metal, you best stay away! But if you want some emotional, moving, and soulful tunes, get this album now! Check out Dan’s web site for a wealth of information on most his recorded material: http://www.come.to/swano
Also check out this Nightingale web site, which is fairly new: http://www.listen.to/nightingale
And finally, here’s Black Mark’s forever dysfunctional site: http://www.blackmark.net