TMO regulars might know that I´m a fan of “Sweet Vengeance”. In a time when the worn out term “Melodic Death Metal” was at an experimental phase with electronics and clean vocals, this band showed up and released a killer album that showcased the sheer strenght of the sound when done right, a dear reminder to a lot of us!
Time flies by as the band now stands ready with their fourth longplayer “Wearing A Martyr´s Crown”. Once again there´s been a change in personnel with founder Mario Iliopoulos remaining the sole surviving member from the debut. The new rhythm section retains a tight performance that, in my opinion, was missing on “A New Disease Is Born”, and the nice galloping leads courtesy of DRAGONLAND`s own Olof Mørck spark extra colour on the songs.
The material is definitely a step up from “Descent Into Chaos” and “A New Disease Is Born”. The band stays true to their initial Melodic Death/Thrash sound, but this time the song writing comes off as more inspired with lots of tempo changes, tons of slick melody and flashy solos and increased layers of acoustic arrangements. Don´t take this the wrong way; as much as the band is exploring their melodic finesses, they remain quite heavy and powerful at the same time, especially during the blasting sections that recall classics like “The Tremor” and “Macabre Apparition”.
New vocalist Antony Håmålåinen does a good job on the songs, cutting down on the clean vox and staying brutal with a versatile mouth of war. When it comes to the album´s final mix, I can´t say that I´m fully impressed with the sound from Studio Fredman; I mean, sure it´s great to a certain degree, but I would rather see it being more spacious for the sake of the increased melody.
Going for an almost guitar heroesque approach, NIGHTRAGE may possibly win some Power Metal fans over, otherwise the album displays a fair representation of the lighter/catchier side of this genre anno 2009.
(Online June 5, 2009)