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Rating explanation

Nightmare - Cosmovision (10/10) - France - 2001

Genre: Power Metal
Label: Napalm Records
Playing time: 51:30
Band homepage: Nightmare


  1. Roads To Nazca (Intro)
  2. Cosmovision
  3. Corridors Of Knowledge
  4. Spirits Of The Sunset
  5. The Church
  6. Behold The Nighttime
  7. Necropolis
  8. The Cemetery Road
  9. Kill For The New Messiah
  10. The Spiral Of Madness
  11. Last Flight Of Sirius
  12. Riddle Of The Ocean
Nightmare - Cosmovision

The perfect Metal album is one that transcends the normal parameters of sonic possibility, to the point where the listener forgets the world around him completely and essentially becomes entranced by it. This can be accomplished a number of different ways, a lot of it depending on the sub-genre that the given opus falls into. The perfect Thrash Metal album would provide not only a large supply of heavy and flashy guitar riffs, but also have them ordered in such a way that the entire album, despite the style’s non-melodic character, to be easily recalled in its entirety. A perfect Black Metal album may accomplish this as well, but will usually resort to a combination of atmospheric consistency and vocal character a bit more so to appeal to an audience that hungers for a deeper and darker experience. 


This gets a little bit more difficult to establish with regards to the Power Metal genre. This is mainly because the really good albums will often pull in a strongly Progressive element that hybrids with the sound, will try to have a riff character somewhat similar to its Thrash Metal cousin, and will simultaneously call for melodies and song structures that conform closer to the common practice system used by most mainstream music. Many albums such as FATES WARNING’S “Awaken The Guardian” pass up the 3rd criterion and format songs that don’t conform to mainstream sensibilities of duration and structure, while others such as MANILLA ROAD’S classic albums are presented with a production that turns off most that are fussy about crisp production and high fidelity sounds. 


But NIGHTMARE’S famed comeback album, “Cosmovision”, differs in that it doesn’t stray far from the mainstream 80s Heavy Metal roots of Power Metal, yet still somehow succeeds in avoiding being a mainstream album. The songs are all very short in length and presented in a typical structure that you’d hear from the likes of ACCEPT and ARMORED SAINT. The riffs are largely simple and very catchy, drawing heavily from the pre-RISING FORCE era where Power Metal started to get laced with a lead fill every 7 or 8 seconds. In the end, the thing that really separates this album from every one I’ve heard in this genre, even the great ones that I mentioned previously is the atmospheric quality that emerges from the production. 


It’s a little difficult to explain, but this album sounds like it could have been recorded in some far off galaxy. The drums sound gigantic, the guitars are crunchy and detached, and the vocals have this dual character of being both nearby yet coming from a distance. I’m not sure what sort of reverb they applied to the arrangement on here, but this sounds like an exaggerated version of a 80s album meets the somewhat more polished character of the Power Metal albums of 2001. Basically, this album is to the Power Metal genre as EMPEROR’S “In The Nightside Eclipse” is to the 2nd wave of Black Metal. When you hear the album, the atmosphere will either completely mesmerize the ears and draw you in, or you’ll find yourself completely repelled by how different it sound than what your comfort zone usually includes. Indeed, the best albums are always the ones the inspire a great deal of discomfort among any sort of hipster sort, and I doubt that this album could ever enjoy extensive radio play the way a DRAGONFORCE or a KAMELOT might, not to say that those bands aren’t great in themselves despite the mainstream appeal.


The cover concept accurately depicts the outer space atmosphere of the album, as well as the dual themes of mysticism and technology that dominate the lyrical subjects of each song. These really massive sounding operatic choral sections regularly occur in the background, utterly saturated in a heavy coating of hall reverb, until it sounds akin to something you’d hear out of a work by John Williams or Danny Elfman. By contrast, the lead vocals put forth by Joe Amore are really gravely, almost to the point of being shrill, yet somehow manage to stay in tune and play off the ultra-clean background singing. Particularly on “Behold The Nighttime” and “The Spiral Of Madness” his voice gets about as harsh as Paul Di’anno did on “Killers” and yet it maintains this aesthetic beauty that fits in with the massive colossus of ambient and neo-classical elements at play.


Due to the complete consistency of the whole, songs don’t really stand out as being better than another, but more so in their varying stylistic attributes. “Last Flight Of Sirius” really starts out as being the fastest and most head bang worthy, while “The Spiral Of Madness” is definitely the most epic and complex of the lot. The title song “Cosmovision” is definitely the most catchy with that and the easiest to grab onto due to its extremely simple structure and lack of super shred guitar solos, while “The Church” throws out a very 80s sounding mid-paced riff set ala ACCEPT and this really wicked talkbox guitar solo that makes “Kickstart My Heart” sound like child’s play. You can pick a favorite if you want, but trying to argue why one song is better to someone else would be quite a challenge, provided they’re drawn to this style of music.


If you buy one album by this band, this is definitely the one to get. They’ve definitely been a consistent act, but the depth of the character and sound on here has never been matched on any of this band’s later releases. People who are into the retro Power Metal style of bands like MOB RULES (particularly “Savageland”) and TAD MOROSE, as well as 80s bands such as LEATHERWOLF, LIEGE LORD, ACCEPT and METAL CHURCH will definitely go for this, although the production is definitely different than anything these bands have put out. So don’t just sit there, get to the store and experience the Incan civilization’s version of the plotline to “Stargate”.

(Online December 12, 2008)

Jonathan Smith

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