Nightmare_The AftermathLet’s face it, power metal is the drama club of the metal world. Members of said club tend to be overdramatic, artsy fartsy and prone to big gestures and frilly shirts. Needless to say, that makes them the target for the rest of metaldom and inevitably, lunch money gets stolen and nipples get twisted. However, none of that shit is going to fly with French power meisters Nightmare. You try to give them a wedgie or rear admiral and you may lose a tooth or six. Yep, these cats pack a lot of muscle and menace in their music and between the crunching guitars and rough and raucous vocals, you’ll forget all about the need to snicker. Much like 2012’s impressive Burden of God, The Aftermath is a manly dose of ripping power with a heaping helping of PanteraBrainstorm and Grave Digger and it’s definitely not your sister’s brand of euro-silliness.

The briefest sample of opener “Bringer of a No Man’s Land” reveals a heavy and hefty take on the genre, leaving the frills and fruit far behind. The riffing is in-your-face and deadly serious like the recent Brainstorm outing and Jo Amore’s vocals walk the line between an angry Dio and the wicked growl of Sir Russell Allen. He never goes full Dio, nor full Russell, but his leather lunged delivery always commands attention and respect. The song itself is a gem and their ear for memorable melody will have you eating from their hand come chorus time.

“Forbidden Tribe” is another burner with ginormous riffing and wailing vocals, featuring a strong Brainstorm vibe and another doozy of a chorus. “I Am Immortal” is thick and chunky with a very Russell Allen-esque vocal performance, and “Invoking Demons” takes the quasi-power ballad concept to heavier places as Amore sells the song like girl scout cookies at Burning Man. The highlight is “Ghost in the Mirror,” which is aggressive as hell with huge vocals and even death croaks! The chorus is bigger than Yellowstone and it all just feels so…METAL!

Nightmare-2014There are one or two tracks that don’t keep up with the herd, most notably “Mission for God,” but they aren’t bad, just a bit flat by comparison. Most of the material here is engaging and addictive fun and far heavier than you would expect.

I continue to be a fan of Amore’s vocals and he really lets it all hang out here. He has similarities to Nils Patrik Johansson (Astral Doors, Wuthering Heights, Civil War), but I think he’s the better singer and utilizes the raspy edge without overdoing it as Johansson tends to. He elevates every song with his wailing and rasping and he’s always a pleasure to listen to. The guitar-work by Matt Asselberghs and Frank Milleliri is sharp and super heavy and their dark, bruising style takes the songs far afield from power metal norms. This time out, some of their playing reminds me of mega obscure Wicked Maraya (especially on “Digital DNA”) which gives the music a slightly proggy flavor at times.

The album has one of the lowest dynamic range scores I’ve ever seen and it is very compressed, but it doesn’t ruin the listening experience as much as you’d think. I was actually shocked at the DR score after spinning this for a week.

Nightmare is a sleeper act and not on a lot of radars, but man, they bring the noise and their writing chops are impressive. If you need more metal in your drama club, this is where you go to pimp your power. But be prepared to give these guys your lunch money or pay the awful consequences.


Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR:  4  |  Format Reviewed: 320 kbps MP3
Label: AFM Records
Websites: nightmare-metal.com  |  facebook.com/NIGHTMAREofficial
Release Dates: EU: 2014.05.23  |  NA: 06.10.2014

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  • T.J. Barber

    Papyrus font on the cover (all caps no less… ouch) does the band a serious disservice.

    • Yeah, I almost didn’t review this based solely on font choice.

      • T.J. Barber

        (eye roll)

        That isn’t what I meant. The amateurish design work gives a bad first impression, which does impact how someone might listen to the music.

        The quality of music is better than the quality of the cover design, therefore it’s a disservice to the band.

        • Don’t you roll your virtual eyes at me!

          • Guest

            I politely refuse

          • T.J. Barber

            I choose to politely refuse

  • Rob Turnbull

    Listening to this as I started reading your review. Although the music is great, it is so awfully brick-walled at points all I can hear through my headphones is crackle. I’m glad you could stand it and enjoy the music; I don’t think I can :-/

    • It is bricky but for whatever reason it didn’t derail the album for me.

      • UnrealKman4

        How do you feel about Pariah’s Child?

    • Matus Dust

      This is un-listenable on my headphones, unfortunately. If the actual records sounds like this… just wow.

      • Sebastian Bugge

        It does not. I bought the record and it sounds awesome. Get proper headphones and get music with 320 kps

        • Matus Dust

          I have DT 770s and most of my music is in FLAC, but thanks for the suggestion. :) I will probably check the album out.

          • Sebastian Bugge

            I think FLAC sounds awful both on speakers and headphones, but well it is a matter of taste

          • Rob Turnbull

            ?

            FLAC is lossless. 320kbps (MP3 I assume) is lossy.
            If you could hear a difference the MP3 would sound worse.

            Anyway I stand by what I said. The music is great but ruined for me by the mastering.

  • Brian Kelly

    the only song ive heard is that youtube song, i wouldnt say its a “gem”. id say its decent & competent, the opening riff has to have been used in literally thousands of songs. the vocal description is basically absolutely right anyway, but i dont think i particularly like how it sounds. now if this was the worst song on the cd then thatd be a good sign, but if this is one of the better songs according to the reviewer, theres just many other better things to listen to in the limited time everyone has. pretty much all power metal bands nowadays have great musicianship & there are so many that have catchier music than this, & better vocals, so to spend time on this band & cd doesnt really make sense. this one song doesnt really make me wanna listen to the whole cd.

    as an example if you compare this sample song to the sample song for the new falconer cd, this band doesnt have the innate ability to write instantly catchy & memorable songs like falconer does. maybe its not fair to compare this band to one of the top bands in metal or all of music, in falconer, but i guess if you want to be a great then you have to live up to, or surpass the top bands.

    • It’s a very solid, enjoyable power metal album with a lot of balls. Is it the best album of the year? No, that’s why it got a 3.5. I enjoy it, it’s catchy and fun and these guys have been very consistent over the past few years. Go listen to the entire album.

    • Ken Hagdal

      Steel speaks the truth. I wouldn’t recommend this one as a starter if you’re not familiar with Nightmare, but it’s still pretty solid.

  • UnrealKman4

    DR: 4

    lawl, shortest review ever

  • Zadion

    I just looked these guys up on RYM and… what the fuck? They released their first album in 1984??? How have I never heard of these guys? “Sleeper act” is an understatement…

  • Great review Steel! I also hear a little bit of Warrel Dane in the vocals mixed with RJD. I thought it was a solid release as well and they do a great job of taking the cheese factor out of power metal. Some heavy riffs are featured throughout and Brainstorm is a perfect comparison.

  • doom-erik

    I was positively surprised by this one. Really strong power metal – melodic but still heavy. I agree that the singer sounds similar to Nils Patrik Johansson – not at all as annoying but still overdoing it a bit at times. Some of the riffs actually reminds me of the last two albums from Symphony X.