Lost in the diarrhea-like flood of bad deathcore and pretentious doom metal released in 2012, a little band from Sweden released a gem of old-school, adjective-less rock ‘n roll. The album in question is Internal Affairs by The Night Flight Orchestra, a quintet that just happens to include vocalist Björn “Speed” Strid and guitarist David Andersson (both of Soilwork) and bassist Sharlee D’Angelo of Arch Enemy.
As the story goes, Strid and Andersson conceived The Night Flight Orchestra out of a love for all things classic rock, and set out to create a new soundtrack to that golden era. Well, mission accomplished, fuckers. NFO takes its cues from the finest that rock has to offer, be it Boston, Steely Dan, Dio-era Rainbow, Heart, Springsteen, or the mighty Zeppelin. The influences may be all over the place, but the result is a surprisingly cohesive record — one where the songs manage to have an overall vibe to them, without necessarily sounding anything like each other. This is a good thing.
There are honestly so many “fuck yeah” moments on here that I don’t know where to start. Behold the shameless Rainbow homage on “Miami 502,” or the perfectly placed acoustics and slide guitar in “Californa Morning.” Maybe the smooth Steely Dan funk of the title track is more your style. Or perhaps you prefer the slow-burning epic “Transatlantic Blues,” or the “Smokin'”-meets-“Flirtin’ With Disaster” boogie of “Montreal Midnight Supply” (which never explains exactly WHAT is going down in Montreal at midnight, but in my head it involves snorting fat rails off of a goalie stick.)
I have to give props to all the NFO guys for capturing the essence of old-school rock so authentically. Andersson in particular delivers massive riffs and tasty leads throughout the record. This man has an impeccable feel for vintage guitar heroics, and has clearly learned from the masters. Keyboardist Richard Larsson and drummer Jonas Källsbäck are relatively unknown, but easily hold their own against the bigger names in the group.
This kind of record would never work without the right vocalist, and Strid certainly rises to the occasion. He’s much more in a “rock” mode here than with Soilwork, dishing out bluesy melodies, a surprising high range rarely seen at his day job, and even the occasional “Alright!” or “ooh yeah!” He may not be the most convincing singer for this sort of stuff, but you can tell that he’s having a fucking blast.
Is it perfect? No. “Glowing City” never really goes anywhere, and album closer “Green Hills of Glümslov” is an overblown ballad that ends the record on an underwhelming note. Hearing Strid sing rock music is also kind of weird and could be an acquired taste to some of you. And if you’re familiar at all with classic rock music, some of these songs feel like a game of “name the band they stole that part from” (which may or may not be half the fun, depending on your outlook). Regardless, you can tell the band had a ton of fun making this record, and that feeling is infectious enough to balance out these minor shortcomings.
Internal Affairs feels like some long-forgotten FM radio playlist from 1974-1982 (or 1974-2012 if you live in the Midwest). Originality aside, it’s more fun than whatever bullshit funeral/wedding/bar mitzvah doom metal you wasted this year listening to, and way more interesting than anything Soilwork or Arch Enemy have done in years. It’s the perfect album for road trips in the Camaro, with the top down and your mustache flowing freely in the breeze. It will make you feel like a golden god. Do it.