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Nightrage
A New Disease Is Born
April 2007
Released: 2007, Lifeforce Records
Rating: 3.0/5
Reviewer: Lord of the Wasteland

When Nightrage first emerged in 2003, they were saddled with the tag of “supergroup” and with good reason. Tomas Lindberg (ex-At The Gates and The Crown) and Evergrey’s Tom S. Englund on vocals, Gus G. (Firewind, ex-Dream Evil, ex-Mystic Prophecy, ex-Arch Enemy) and Marios Iliopoulos (ex-Exhumation) on guitar and The Haunted’s Per Moller Jensen on drums. SWEET VENGEANCE was an outstanding debut that landed on many best albums list for 2003. The melodic death format was revitalized and the band was seen as more than just a star-filled side project. Jensen and Englund left for 2005’s DESCENT INTO CHAOS, which wasn’t quite up to snuff with SWEET VENGEANCE but still showcased some killer leads and Lindberg’s trademark vocals.



So what happened here? Only Iliopoulos remains from the first album (Fredrik Nordstrom’s production wizardry on the first two albums has been replaced with the equally impressive Jacob Hansen) and even though he was always the primary songwriter, A NEW DISEASE IS BORN sounds less like a band that helped shape the melodic death genre and more like the countless hacks that have ripped off the riffs, vocals and overall feeling associated with it. The major problem is new vocalist Jimmie Strimell. Generic to the core, Strimell’s bellow and occasional use of emo-styled clean vocals overshadow the riffs and leads and without Gus G. there to battle it out with Iliopoulos, things just seem to have gone down a few notches on the excitability scale. The album is not without its bright spots but when compared to SWEET VENGEANCE and DESCENT INTO CHAOS, A NEW DISEASE IS BORN is simply an exercise in mediocrity and the sound of a band struggling to find its identity.



“Spiral” opens with a bruising thrash riff but the chorus is littered with clean vocals that will surely irritate many. Wavering between Scar Symmetry and every swoopy-haired metalcore act that has polluted the scene over the past three years, one cannot help but question Iliopoulos’ choice of Strimell and the musical direction taken here (think the uproar heard ‘round the world when In Flames released CLAYMAN). The pattern continues on “Reconcile” with vocals that go from the harsh barked verses to clean choruses that derided the integrity of bands like Soilwork in many people’s eyes. Iliopoulos does show off some spiffy licks at the end, though. Things finally get rolling on “Death-Like Silence” with a killer guitar solo and melodic riff. Even the slower tempo of “A Condemned Club” works by adding some acoustic guitars and accessible melodies. Strimell redeems himself slightly on “Scars of The Past” by keeping the clean vocals at bay and using them in a more reserved manner and Iliopoulos simply shreds here. Unfortunately, the only fleeting moments in the next five tracks worth mentioning are the occasional guitar flourish but otherwise, they flow into one another with a startling familiarity and sameness. It isn’t until the ripping thrash riffs of “Spiritual Impulse” that things begin to deviate from bland melodic death. Iliopoulos gets to shine on the guitar instrumental title track but it really is too little, too late.



Marios Iliopoulos put Nightrage on the heavy metal map by aligning himself with some pretty big names in the biz and delivering a smoking debut album. But that was four years ago and while the rest of the original members have moved on to focus on other projects, Iliopoulos has been left to fend for himself and piece together a band that can maintain the quality of that first, big album. While the departure of Lindberg, Gus G., et al would surely leave many struggling, Iliopoulos has soldiered on as best he can with mixed results. SWEET VENGEANCE and DESCENT INTO CHAOS had an identity and a direction that was clearly laid out whereas A NEW DISEASE IS BORN seems to be caught between its melodic death roots and the copycats that have twisted and diluted it into what has become metalcore. Granted, there are no breakdowns here but that overall feeling of “tough guy” attitude produced by Strimell’s vocals just oozes metalcore. The jump from Century Media to metalcore-laced Lifeforce Records surely doesn’t help to dispel that line of thought, either. Fact of the matter is, without the high-profile names and skills of Tomas Lindberg and Gus G. to augment Marios Iliopoulos’s obvious musicianship, A NEW DISEASE IS BORN simply drifts off into the sea of followers rather than soldiering on as the leaders they once were.



KILLER KUTS: “Death-Like Silence,” “A Condemned Club,” “Scars of The Past,” “Spiritual Impulse”
Track Listing

1. Spiral
2. Reconcile
3. Death-Like Silence
4. A Condemned Club
5. Scars of The Past
6. De-Fame
7. Scathing
8. Surge of Pity
9. Encircle
10. Drone
11. Spiritual Impulse
12. A New Disease is Born (Instrumental)

Lineup

Jimmie Strimell—Vocals
Marios Iliopoulos—Guitar
Henric Carlsson—Bass
Alex Svenningson—Drums


Next review: » Nightrage - A New Disease Is Born
Nightrage
A New Disease Is Born
May 2007
Released: 2007, Lifeforce Records
Rating: 2.0/5
Reviewer: Anders Sandvall

Many members have come and gone in the Greek/Swedish act Nightrage since the release of the masterpiece SWEET VENGEANCE in 2003. The only remaining members are band-leader and guitarist Marios and bass player Henric Carlsson who joined on the second album. Jimmie Strimell (Deathdestruction) has taken over lead vocals and Alex Svenningson now plays the drums. Besides the member changes, the band has also been signed to a new label, Lifeforce Records.

Nightrage has switched musical direction with this album. Today I’d say that the band plays a more melodic death metal in the veins of In Flames, where Strimell shifts between singing clean and aggressive vocals. The more obvious Arch Enemy influences are gone and now that they only have one guitarist I think they have lost a lot of the aggression and edge they had before. One remaining element is the single instrumental track that Marios features on all of his Nightrage albums. I had really high hopes for Nightrage because I thought the previous albums was totally brilliant, but now after listening to the album several times I find myself not so blown away, unfortunately.

To be honest, I don’t think the material is that good. Singer Strimell has nothing to provide to the band; he can’t pull off the clean vocals parts. It really feels like Marios misses his former band mate Gus G and his amazing guitar playing which really lifted the previous albums. Some of the songs are too alike and they blend into a blur of music. The album awakes when “Spiral”, “Death-like Silence”, “De-Fame”, “Scathing”, “Encircle”, and “Drone” are played, but 6 songs out of 12 doesn’t make an album. It sounds like Nightrage are going through a serious identity crisis at the moment and the material that was so hot and edgy before is now just In Flames; leftovers.

Even though this album isn’t anything like I expected and frankly disappointed me a bit, Marios should get credit for continuing the struggle with Nightrage. On the next Nightrage album I’d really like to hear a new singer, edgier material, and another guitarist; then we can start talking Nightrage.
Track Listing

1. Spiral
2. Reconcile
3. Death-like Silence
4. A Condemned Club
5. Scars from the Past
6. De-fame
7. Scathing
8. Surge of Pity
9. Encircle
10. Spiritual Impulse
11. A New Disease is Born (instrumental)

Lineup

Marios Illiopoulos – guitar
Jimmie Strimell – lead vocals
Henric Carlsson – bass
Alex Svenningson – drums


Next review: » Nightrage - Descent into Chaos





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