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Nightmare - Silent Room (9/10) - France - 2003

Genre: Power Metal
Label: Napalm Records
Playing time: 60:34
Band homepage: Nightmare


  1. Paranormal Magnitude
  2. The Rise Of A Child
  3. Strange Connection
  4. Travel In The Spheres Of Dreams
  5. Shades In The Night
  6. Silent Room
  7. Mind Matrix Schizophrenia
  8. A Piece Of Paradise
  9. Virtual Freedom
  10. Sniper In The Playground
  11. The Death Toll
  12. Prisoner Of The System
  13. Ship Of Fools (Bonus Track)   
Nightmare - Silent Room

After immediately mesmerizing the ears of old school Power Metal fans with their amazing comeback album, “Cosmovision”, NIGHTMARE elected to completely throw everyone for one hell of a loop. It’s difficult to describe exactly what is so different about “Silent Room”, as the technical aspects of the music are very similar. The music is still loaded with 80s style riffs, large as hell sounding backing choruses, and a surreal atmosphere that instantaneously separates itself from anything in this genre, but something about the entire character of the style has been darkened on this album, in a manner by which one would go from the dream-like Sci-Fi and Fantasy oriented art works of Robin Koni to the still otherworldly, but dark and Nightmare-like depictions of Luis Royo.


Instead of following up with another album based on some ancient culture and tying in some science fiction underpinnings, this album looks on its cover like a cross between a 90s FATES WARNING album and something that CARCASS might dream up. The story is of a child who is detached from the world and spends all his time on his computer, downloads a video game where all the encounters within actually morph into real life events, and eventually turns into something similar to the horror film “Ghost In The Machine” with perhaps a hint of “Scanners” as well. Contained within is a lot of socio-political symbolism, whether intentional or not, mostly focusing on how his relationship with his school mates and his mother affects the way the game unfolds, and ultimately what happens to everyone.


Although the style of the band hasn’t changed, to match the very different nature of this album’s concept, the production job is quite different on here than on the previous album. The drums are still loud and highly present, but that really booming and long sustaining reverb that gave the last release its intergalactic quality has been scaled back significantly, giving the guitars and the keyboards a lot more presence. The lead vocals also don’t sound quite as off in the distance, though there is a good amount of reverb in place that takes sounds somewhat similar to a person singing in a smooth cement room with no windows, with all the sounds reverberating off the walls. Even considering that only a short amount of the storyline actually depicts the main character being committed to an institution, the entire production of the album gives the feeling of a person trapped in an insane asylum.


The songs have gotten a bit longer and a little more Progressive, though they are still highly catchy and accessible. One thing that immediately jumps out in certain songs like “Paranormal Magnitude” and “Shades In The Night” is the greater reliance of additional clean guitar tracks substituting for keyboard parts, which definitely tilts the album slightly towards the FATES WARNING sound. Likewise, even on Speed Metal songs like the title track “Silent Room”, the darker production and louder guitar tracks pull this away from being what was largely considered commonplace in the Power Metal of 2003. Half of the time you’d swear the band was taking pointers from “Metal Heart”, the other half things sound like a slightly more melodic version of “No Exit”.


Although this new direction is definitely more original than the concept for “Cosmovision”, the album itself can be a little hard to follow at times. They threw a lot of good ideas together in a couple of songs like “Shades In The Night” and “Prisoner Of The System” which sound like multiple songs ending and beginning on top of each other. It definitely takes multiple listens to really get the full effect of the album, especially if you were more prone to liking the barer and more concise work of the previous offering. Some songs like “Virtual Freedom” and “The Death Toll” get really close to sticking to the simple Speed Metal songs that dominated their sound, but even these employ at least 8 or 9 different riffs, as opposed to 4 or 5 like before.


Ultimately this album will appeal a little bit more to the fans of Power Metal who were into more intellectual stuff like QUEENSRYCHE’S “The Warning”, as opposed to the previous one which was definitely leaning more towards fans of METAL CHURCH, ACCEPT, and for a more recent example TAD MOROSE. The lead vocals and every other aspect of the melodic material on here does not sound flowery or light, so this album will definitely sit well with older fans of the genre who don’t go for the squeaky clean tenor and counter-tenor ranges common amongst other European acts. In some aspects it’s a little bit of a throwback since it takes little of the newer trapping of Power Metal into account, save the increase of production value, but these songs have definitely never been heard for and will sound fresh to even the most conscientious of old school Metal fans.

(Online December 11, 2008)

Jonathan Smith

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