Released: 2017, AFM Records
One of France’s best known metal bands is back with their tenth album in DEAD SUN. It is encouraging to us aging bangers to see a band that has been around since 1979 still writing inspired and aggressive music. Unfortunately, the Amore brothers have departed the band and so new Belgian singer Maggy Luyten and drummer Olivier Casula have stepped in to fill their shoes. Adding a female singer is not exactly an original decision, as metal bands around the world are scrambling to front their band with charismatic women, so yes this smacks of trendiness. Fortunately for Nighmare, Luyten provides the necessary grit and presence to differentiate herself from Amore and offer a chance at more variety.
Since the band’s reunion in 2001 they have dived head first into the vast and shark-infested waters of power metal. On DEAD SUN the bands have once again chosen to prowl amongst the likes of Nevermore, Communic, and Mystic Prophecy, hoping to scoop up some unsuspecting fans wading into that part of the pool. Yet, there is a melodic and classic approach that adds to the album’s appeal as evidenced in the harmonized opening riff of “Infected.” After the opening, we are introduced to Luyten’s gravelly and aggressive vocals. She quickly establishes her versatility though on the following “Sleepless Minds”, vastly improving on Jo Amore’s nasal vocals and frankly composing melody lines that were beyond Amore’s ability.
“Marble Gold” is fast and fairly heavy, with its thrash riffs balanced by keyboards and Luyten’s memorable chorus vocals. Mostly though, the band chooses a heavy and chugging midpaced tempo throughout. “Indifference” is a nice change of pace with hanging power chords and thumping rhythm section during the verse. The chorus is also quite strong, with Luyten again expanding on Amore’s limitations. While there are eleven songs on the album, the band continues to remain consistent to the end considering deep album track “Inner Sanctum” is one of the best on the album and includes some of Luyten’s best work.
The guitar and drum work is simply blistering, the band clearly invigorated by the lineup changes. DEAD SUN is definitely a better album than 2014’s THE AFTERMATH, with Nightmare aiming higher and hitting the target. Couple of small gripes would be cold and dry production of the album and songs that tend to blend into one another without huge levels of distinction. Still, considering the gaping wound left by the departing Amore brothers, this album has to be considered a triumph and one that any fan of Mystic Prophecy, Bloodbound and of heavy power metal in general should find useful for kicking off the new year.