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Nightingale - 2007 White Darkness

ARTIST: Nightingale
ALBUM: White Darkness
LABEL: Black Mark Productions
YEAR: 2007


LINEUP: Dan Swano - vocals, guitars, keyboards * Erik Oskarsson - bass, vocals * Tom Bjorn - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Fields Of Life * 02 Trial And Error * 03 One Way Ticket * 04 Reasons * 05 Wounded Soul * 06 Hideaway * 07 To My Inspiration * 08 White Darkness * 09 Belief * 10 Trust



Is there such a thing as dark melodic rock? Then perhaps Sweden's Nightingale might be prime purveyors of such a sub-genre. Once touted as being a goth come prog metal band, leader Dan Swano has since taken them to a lighter and more melodic territory. Very much all the goth influences have been wrung out to dry on this 2007 album, for some a shame, for many others - a welcome addition! Dan Swano cannot be accused of playing it safe, having changed the outlook and prospects of the band. Nowadays with Nightingale, you'll hear references to 80's bands such as Rush and Queensryche to all the players in the current melodic/prog market a la Royal Hunt, Cornerstone etc. Never fear oh fans of melodic rock. You'll get no death metal growls which Swano is remembered for (think Edge Of Sanity), instead he sounds like he's been doing this sub-genre all of his life!

The Songs
Synths are prominent on 'Fields Of Life', the melodic ivory taps, organ blasts and an insistent mono synth lead all combine on this Cornerstone/Royal Hunt powered goodie! 'Trial And Error' has some copy-cat Rush guitar-lines, though the big synth parts does give it a point of difference. 'One Way Ticket' initially cascades over quieter waters to start with, though the pressure and energy mounts up during the course of the song. It has a very Queensryche 'Rage For Order' like feel to it. The semi-ballad 'Reasons' reaches for the sky. Clear and incisive vocals push through a meandering arrangement which sounds as if it could to life at the drop of a hat. The guitar/keyboard interplay on this one touches Genesis (70's era) proportions! No kidding! Prog fans should enjoy the depth of soul with 'Hideaway', plenty to hold on to here. We're swinging the acoustic guitars with 'To My Inspiration' - not a sign of the electrics turned on, and nice and mellow it is too. Pianos and acoustic guitars carry on the story on the title track, but before long storming guitars and synths join the party. 'Belief' is hard rock in spirit, the whole thing coming across like a Uriah Heep/Magnum hybrid - believe it or not. The closer 'Trust' shapeshifts between soft and hard, a good litmus test for the album overall.

In Summary
Reading around the Net, many of the band's fans still prefer their older stuff, but in reality, this album is quite different. It's not even closely aligned to progressive metal, coming off like melodic hard rock with a grandiose edge as per the bands mentioned above. Swano may yet take this band into unchartered waters in years to come. You can also hear him singing and playing on other projects - so he is not a one-horse rider. Nightingale have come a long way from their goth roots, and remain the biggest surprise in melodic rock since Oliver Hartmann's switch in 2005.

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