I had thought British Doom/Deathers NIGHTMARE VISIONS long lost since I had not really heard or read anything about them since their 1998 album "Bequest Of Sorrow" and its rather limited success (both commercially and with this reviewer here). If I still remember correctly, it was rather bland Doom/Death with some Gothic influences and I had bought it for cheap back then, but in the meantime got rid of it, simply because of its lack of memorability.
Now it took them seven years to come up with an EP last year and another one to finish their full-length comeback "Gates Of Delirium" and with their last effort still more or less firmly in my mind, my enthusiasm to give it a spin was rather, ehm, limited, so to say. And I have to say that they have not compromised their old sound in order to gain new fans, but rather seem to have overhauled it a little, giving it a bit more power and also elements that will stick to your memory beyond the end of the song.
I don't want to call their sound a bit quirky, but they definitely have their own take on the melodic side of Death Metal, mostly staying away from fast passages, but rather embracing an at times Doom-like edge and also some Gothic influences into a concoction that is not original in any way, but still bears its own character that I haven't really heard from any other band like that. Even though the production is good, it has this rawer quality to it, which sounds far removed from the clinical high gloss many bands these days deliver and adds to the charm of melodic guitars, Andy Barnard's gravelly voice and the overall atmosphere.
That atmosphere and vibe is what makes these songs sound rather unique to me, very apparent in "Silent Crow", while "Ethereal Traveller" contains a very distinct Doom vibe and "Beyond The Black" convinces with good leads and dynamics. Still the album does not move up as one might hope for and despite its own charm kind of stays stuck without really breaking through.
If you like the direction I outlined above, by any means check NIGHTMARE VISIONS' latest effort out, it is a good album, it just pales in comparison to other comparable releases out there, but then again, I am getting spoiled rotten with new releases, so...
(Online December 12, 2006)