Night Flight Orchestra have rapidly escalated from “modern metal dudes pretending to be classic rockers” into something far more authentic and interesting. Their 2012 debut Internal Affairs was a shockingly good burst of late-1970s glory, especially considering the Soilwork and Arch Enemy members involved. 2015’s Skyline Whispers took the band’s sound into the synth-heavy ’80s, resulting in heavy rotation in the AMG office and a spot on my own Top 10(ish) list that year. Further solidifying their legitimacy, NFO recently signed a deal with Nuclear Blast, leading to the release of their 3rd record Amber Galactic.

Album opener “Midnight Flyer” is, quite bluntly, a fucking jam. Building from a suspenseful keyboard intro, the track eventually gives way to one of Bjorn “Speed” Strid’s finest vocal hooks, followed by a dizzying arms race of guitar and keyboard solos. “Gemini” is also a flawless victory, with crisp Police guitar tone and an infectiously fun vibe (not to mention an absolutely perfect video accompaniment). The more laid-back “Domino” cuts it pretty close to Toto‘s “Africa,” but gets by mostly on the pure audacity of writing a song that sounds like “Africa.”

The rocking “Star Of Rio” features gratuitous use of both female backing vocals and hand claps, so you know it’s gonna be awesome. “Josephine” is a blast of pure ’80s pop-rock, with keyboardist Richard Larsson delivering some excellent piano work. Strid grasps for the heartstrings on the ballad “Jennie,” ending up somewhere between Supertramp and perhaps Frank Stallone (side note: this song would have been perfect over the closing credits of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Commando). As the above paragraph may imply, NFO‘s influences range far and wide, which sets them apart from the legions of throwback bands who think “classic rock” begins and ends with Zeppelin or Sabbath.

Not every song hits it out of the park, though. The more mid-paced “Sad State Of Affairs” never really takes off, and the Billy Joel-isms during the song’s bridge are maybe a little too obvious. Raw garage-ish rock is not exactly in NFO‘s wheelhouse, causing “Space Whisperer” to fall somewhat flat.  Closing track “Saturn In Velvet” is the album’s requisite epic/long song, but seems to just be a very lengthy disco track, rather than a multi-tiered prog journey. Moreso than the band’s two previous records, Amber feels front-loaded with the best tracks, with the quality declining just slightly towards the end.

Unsurprisingly, NFO‘s musicianship remains top notch. The piano and synth work is outstanding, and the band’s rhythm section delivers the groove without ever distracting. Strid’s voice sounds a tad more grizzled than in years past, but he’s still going all-out, fully committed to his transformation into a legitimate rock singer. For my money, though, the standout performance belongs to guitarist David Andersson, who can seemingly channel any style or genre convincingly, while also adding his own touch.

Picking up right where Skyline Whispers left off, Amber Galactic echoes the transitional late ’70s/early ’80s rock. Or as Strid himself puts it: “We sound like cocaine.” While I still hold a soft spot for the more vintage stylings of the band’s debut, Amber Galactic seems to solidify the band’s sound and intentions — and if the songs are this good, I won’t complain. Regardless, it’s doubtful that you will find a better party record than Amber Galactic this summer.

Rating: 4.0/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 270 kbps mp3
Label: Nuclear Blast
Websites: Facebook.com/NightFlightOrchestra
Release Dates: Out Worldwide: May 19th, 2017

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  • El_Cuervo

    I’d’ve fanboyed it and gone full 4.5. Listened at least twice per day since I got it.

    My only criticism is “Saturn in Velvet”. Compared with the long tracks from Internal Affairs and Skyline Whispers (2 of my favourite tracks from their respective albums) it is quite weak.

    • Dr_Fisting

      Agreed — of the 3 “long” songs, it’s not nearly as good as the other two. The one from Internal Affairs is the best one by a mile.

      • El_Cuervo

        My pick would be “The Heather Reports” but that’s prob cos I’m different and actually prefer the synthier 80s influence! It also makes for a great in-joke among my friends as one of them lost his virginity to a Heather.

        • Ivan E. Rection

          Did she file any reports on that?

    • Dr. Wvrm

      I still think it stands up on this album though, I’ve got it third behind Gemini and Josephine.

  • Dr. Wvrm

    I was skeptical at first, but count me among the converted. I might have gone higher than 4, this record is stellar from top to bottom.

  • Eli Valcik

    Yay, an animated music video! Music isn’t too bad also.

  • Ferrous Beuller

    I like Space Whisperer, but I’m on board with the other points made. Gemini needs a warrant for breaking and entering, because that fucker won’t get out of my head.

  • I’m spinning this thing way too much.

  • Grymm

    “Midnight Flyer” is AWESOME, as is most of the album.

    This is just the fun I needed. Great review, Dr.!

  • Wilhelm

    Oh man, I live for this stuff, pure 80’s rock

  • Daniel Albert

    “it’s doubtful that you will find a better party record than Amber Galactic this summer.”
    Their first 2 records were just like that for me!

  • Edgecrusher

    Star Of Rio is ridiculously catchy

  • These guys need a summer tour with Audrey Horne and Brother Firetribe.

    • The Unicorn

      Dude!

    • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

      If Marty McFly and Doc Brown were to attend that show they would likely think the controls on the DeLorean broke or something.

    • Tofu muncher

      Throw in 1D (that’s One Desire), and we’re good.

    • CarvedInStone

      Add Crazy Lixx to that line-up. They released probably their best album yet with “Ruff Justice”. Will anyone review that at some point down the line since the last one was also reviewed here?

      • OpNMC

        Their self titled album blows their latest album out of the water IMO. Too many slow songs and not enough energy.

        • CarvedInStone

          Usually that would bother me as well but with “Ruff Justice” I really don’t care. The songs are too good and they really managed to capture the 80s vibe with this one.

  • Reese Burns

    Love Strid’s vocals, even if this got a 0.0, I’d pick it up on principal.

  • Luis Onieva Marenco

    This hasn´t come into my hear yet (new Ayreon stuff´s fault) but due to this review it´ll be engaged tomorrow. I fucking loved Skyline Whispers and quite sure I won´t be dissapointed :)

  • Huck N’ Roll

    Odd, my copy has a different cover.

    • GardensTale

      Have you got the digipak?

    • Christophe Laroche

      me too

  • GardensTale

    I actually love sad state of affairs and skyline whispers! The riff on sad state is fucking addictive, it’s one of my favorites in the album. Other than that, great review and this’ll surely end up in my end of year list!

    • netromo

      Their first album was named Internal Affairs. Checking wiki. Yup, I’m right. And I agree. Both that and Skyline Whispers are brilliant albums. Oops. Sad State of Affairs is a song on the new album. My apologies

      • GardensTale

        Uhhhhh yeah, that one. Getting confused with all the whispers around here.

  • a glass o’ milk

    I fucking love this record! Especially the closer “Saturn In Amber”! That track kicks ass and looks damn good while doing so!

    • GardensTale

      *Velvet

      • a glass o’ milk

        shit, I always get that wrong for some reason O.o

  • madhare

    Got to love the Heavy Metal (not the music this time) vibe in the video!

  • Ivan E. Rection

    Internal Affairs was stellar. A great Gerry Rafferty vibe with maybe a sprinkling of Thin Lizzy. Those tunes could have fit in perfectly on any Rafferty album. Skyline was good too, so very stoked to hear this.

  • ssorg

    borderline non-metal, so of course it gets a 3.5+ rating on AMG

    • El_Cuervo

      lol

    • We secretly hate all metal.

    • Dr_Fisting

      When you find a 3rd-generation Meshuggah or Darkthrone knockoff that’s producing 3.5-worthy albums, please let us know.

      • ssorg
      • ssorg

        What’s the point — you guys only review the promos you get, no? In any case, my “criticism” is half-hearted — I still prefer an AMG review to most others. “Always love the ones you hurt” as a 5.0 album once sang…

    • Dr. A.N. Grier

      Metal sucks!!!!!!

  • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

    Good thing Dr. Fisting didn’t ask the dreaded combo questions “Is it Metal? Does it matter” in the review.

  • 3 songs in: my pubes grew back, I rehung my velvet Elvis painting, and I had a craving for Fruit Stripe gum.

    • Dr_Fisting

      Fruit Stripe was some good shit!

  • foreverAlfon

    Man “Domino” sounds something like Prince, Supertramp, Rush and Bon Jovi had way too many drinks, cocaine, and some kind of super nasty orgy and it is obviously the best track on the whole album, which is fantastic by the way, it’s been a while since I had so much fun listening to an album. I looked like an idiot singing and laughing in the middle of the evening’s traffic jam. Thank you, Nigh Flight Orchestra

  • doom-erik

    I have been in a nostalgic mood recently, listening to a lot of 80s pop music, so this is perfect timing! Should check out their previous albums too.

  • Wes Allen

    Nothing like a couple o’ cartoon babes making out to wrap up a music video.

  • Thatguy

    Amazingly I don’t hate this. I think maybe I like it. I think my wife would like it.

    I don’t know what’s come over me.

    • [not a Dr]

      Does your wife know about the Band Photometer?

  • Innit Bartender

    Man, I can totally picture myself in the mid-80s in a record shop, holding a vinyl with THAT cover in my hands, going up shyly to the counter to pay for it, sliding it into the square bag and then bringing it on the schoolbus the next day…

  • Paul VH

    First bar of Saturn In Velvet sounds suspiciously like Love You To Death by Type O Negative…..

  • Paul VH

    Jennie…..just when you thought all the good one named songs about women were already penned…..my fav track…..
    Ps. Ever notice they never pick names like Bertha or Gertrude?..

  • “Spoglądam w niebo w poszukiwaniu znaku”.
    That phrase in my native language, right at the beginning of the song, took me by surprise.

    If someone cares – it means “I’m looking up into the sky, searching for a sign.”
    edit: ok, it’s pretty obvious when the actual lyrics hit.

    • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

      Thanks for the Polish lesson, but I still don’t know how to pronounce Mgła.

      • Dude, last time I’ve recorded the correct pronunciation and tried to post it here for you, but the comment was treated as a spam. What more can I do?
        …Maybe send it by e-mail if you will reach me trough the website.

        • Igor Alencar

          Apparently the letter W is considered a vogal in polish language?

          • If by “vogal” you mean vowel, then the answer is no. What made you to think so?

          • Igor Alencar

            Sorry, misspelled, I meant vowel.

            In fact I was thinking as a portuguese speaker, because the letter W appeared alone and appearently making connections with other words, like a definite article, and in portuguese vowels are definite articles.
            But I should have said “definite article” like “the” in english language instead of vowel. Exemplifying, when you say “the” house, in polish you say “w” house.
            Was I clear? Not sure…

          • Yeah, now I understand. “W” means “in”, or “into” (also when you are -in- the process of something – like searching for a sign in the example above) and it’s a preposition in Polish.

    • Rodrigo D.C.

      First comment here. Long time reader from Porto Alegre, Brazil.
      I was suprised, too, when I heard the portuguese phrase at the beginning of “Midnight Flyer”.
      The girl says “Eu não estou partindo. Estou apenas indo para outro lugar, pra longe dos suspiros e sussurros, e das minhas próprias fraquezas.”
      Wich means exactly the first verse of the song.

      By the way, best blog ever!

  • brutal_sushi

    Finally picked up my copy today… Found my summer album. Sunglass on, Windows down, volume up!

  • Nag Dammit

    Any review that mentions Commando is win. I hope you picked that track out because it has the same name as Matrix’s daughter in that amazing movie.

    • Dr_Fisting

      Indeed I did, and I’m glad the reference didn’t go completely unnoticed.

      • Nag Dammit

        Anything high brow would sail on, right over my head. But references to Arnie movies I often catch. Totally agree that song would be awesome at the end of Commando but does it beat the closing song from Commando the Musical? If you haven’t seen it, check it out on YouTube and thank me later (not for making it mind you).

        • Dr_Fisting

          Commando: The Musical was awesome, but I think I slightly prefer NFO.
          Side note: A few weeks back, I had the honor of meeting Vernon Wells, the actor who played Bennett. He was cool as hell.

          • Nag Dammit

            Haha, yeah slightly off topic – sorry. Awesome about meeting Vernon Wells. I can’t imagine him wearing anything other than leather and / or chain mail. I’d love to meet him when he’s really pissed off and tell him to let off some steam but reckon he’d kill me.

          • Dr_Fisting

            He’s pushing 70 now, and thankfully was not wearing the Bennett outfit. But he could still kill you, easily.

          • Nag Dammit

            No doubt. Hopefully he wouldn’t shoot me in the balls though, that would be low.

          • Dr_Fisting

            He signed an 8×10 for me with exactly that quote on it.

  • Malcolm in the Middle X

    I. Love. This. I fucking love this. Something Mysterious is the best song Survivor never wrote. Easily my favorite on the album.

  • HeavyMetalHamster

    This and the new Voyager have been going nonstop on the old ipod.
    Great upbeat and feel good balance for my Jekyll and Hyde musical palate.

  • DeadHead

    This band has been awesome since day 1. I grew up listening to classic rock so this has a huge nostalgia factor for me. Its a nice break from my ridiculously heavy metal collection.