Wearing A Martyr's Crown

Written by: AP on 13/08/2009 18:23:51

Despite the fact that the band's lineup has seen many a celebrity completing the ranks, Nightrage has always somehow managed to remain rather an underground entity. We are talking about one of those bands that has put out consistently good material but never broken through with anything particularly novel, settling instead for trotting in the shadow of the Gothenburg mammoths like some kind of obsessed fanboy. Unlike most of those bands, however, Nightrage have never compromised their retrospective vision to earn the respect of the mainstream and are effectively one of the few remaining bands to practice the original sound of melodic death metal.

It should come as no surprise then that Nightrage are entirely comfortable where they are, following the footsteps of At The Gates, rather than attempting to introduce their own, unique elements into the genre. In fact, current vocalist Antony Hämäläinen sounds impeccably much like Tomas Lindberg of said band, which should come as no surprise given that Mr. Lindberg himself once handled vocal duties in Nightrage. Coincidentally when he did, the band was also putting out its best songs, and after his departure the band began moving in the direction of metalcore. As such it is refreshing to witness a return with this latest album, "Wearing A Martyr's Crown", to the origins of the melodeath genre, and even more so to find that the threatening metalcore toxins that lingered in the previous album "A New Disease Is Born", have been banished in favor of a rawer sound which carries hints of "Lunar Strain" and "Subterranean" era In Flames.

However, the album is still plagued by a distinct lack of highlights. Cool (if used) harmonized melodies and staccato riffs dominate the soundscape while the bass guitar merely provides rhythm and depth, and the drumming, well, not much to be said about it. Johan Nunez gives the skins a proper beating as is to be expected in this genre, but never exceeds his role as a rhythm machine. While the musicianship is top notch, the songs just aren't very memorable on their own. Unfortunately they also all clock in at at least four minutes, leaving too much room for things to repeat themselves. Obviously the extra minutes in the songs could be used for subtle experimentation, but no such boldness exists on "Wearing A Martyr's Crown", which is instead about as safe and anonymous an album as can be.

That is not to say that it isn't good, though. One never feels pained by the lack of variety because the technical skill of the respective members alone is inspiring to listen to. There is just this air of monotony hanging low over every song, which means that while the album is a decent listen, it is unlikely that most of you will give it additional spins. This is by-the-books, old school melodeath, but those of you who have an interest in the genre would be better off checking out the back catalog of In Flames, Dark Tranquillity and At The Gates, and for another modern take on the genre, Dimension Zero's newest album "He Who Shall Not Bleed".


Download: Shed the Blood, Wearing A Martyr's Crown, Wounded Angels

For the fans of: At The Gates, Dark Tranquillity (old), Dimension Zero, In Flames (old)

Listen: Myspace

Release date 22.06.2009


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