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Nightrage - "Insidious" (CD)

Nightrage - "Insidious" CD cover image

"Insidious" track listing:

1. So Far Away (Intro)
2. Delirium Of The Fallen
3. Insidious
4. Wrapped In Deceitful Dreams
5. Hate Turns Black
6. Sham Piety
7. Cloaked In Wolf Skin
8. This World Is Coming To An End
9. Utmost End Of Pain
10. Poignant Memories
11. Hush Of Night
12. Poisoned Pawn
13. Solar Eclipse (Prelude)
14. Solar Corona
15. Emblem Of Light (Outro)

Reviewed by on September 4, 2011

"A truly remarkable metal album that deserves to be cherished and remembered among the best of the past decade."

Greek though he may be, riff wizard Marios Iliopoulos was born with Gothenburg blood coursing through his veins. Strains of melodic death metal have so permeated the far-flung fabric of the heavy music universe that whenever they arise, our first instinct is to nod and say, “That’s nice, dear. Now put away your hand-me-down In Flames and At The Gates CDs, clean your room, and renew your subscription to ‘Boys' Life.’” But Iliopoulos is a man’s man and a metalhead’s metalhead, and after stretching his fingers in the late ‘90s with Greek melodeath outfit Exhumation, he struck musical gold with Sweden-based act Nightrage and never looked back.

Over the course of four studio albums since 2003, Nightrage robustly evolved from a humble underground supergroup to a solid band in its own right, with a steady lineup and a signature sound. Album number five, “Insidious,” is the first Nightrage disc to carry over said lineup from its predecessor, 2009’s jaw-dropping “Wearing A Martyr’s Crown,” which planted seeds of musical genius in soil more fertile and firmer than ever before. Here, those seeds have burst forth into glory, and given us a truly remarkable metal album that deserves to be cherished and remembered among the best of the past decade.

After the minute-plus mood-setting of serene opener “So Far Away,” Nightrage presses “ignition” with a trademark starting-gate ripper, “Delirium Of The Fallen,” and keeps the speed and fury cranked up with the fittingly titled “Insidious.” Appropriate for the stunning fluidity and grace with which the band has combined aggressive brutality and emotional melodies, a Nightrage trademark since debut “Sweet Vengeance” that has continued to assert itself throughout their discography, all the way up to this album’s closing track. Granted, the last third mildly suffers from repetition, though the individual tracks (including “Hush Of Night” and “Poisoned Pawn”) are top-notch.

Overall, burning death-drenched thrashers (“Hate Turns Black,” “Cloaked In Wolf Skin,” “Utmost End Of Pain”) and fist-pumping, foot-stomping rockers (“Wrapped In Deceitful Dreams,” “This World Is Coming To An End,” “Poignant Memories”) are the order of the day, thanks to Iliopoulos and guitar compatriot Olof Mörck, who blend their handiwork with the rhythm section of Anders Hammer (bass) and Johan Nunez (drums) into a mouth-watering but stiff cocktail that goes down easily before leaving you floored. With a feral sandpaper roar, frontman Antony Hämäläinen gives voice to the raging (ahem) passion and power his band projects, with a bit of help from his friends. Multiple guest appearances from Apollo Papathanasio (Firewind) contribute some soulful cleans, as do the guest spots of former Nightrage collaborator Tom Englund (Evergrey). And how could this epic be complete without the raving screams of original frontman Tomas Lindberg (At The Gates, Lock Up)? As much as the music itself, the vocal offerings on “Insidious” balance the beautiful with the beastly.

After nearly a decade of a two-year album cycles, many bands might have misfired by now. Not Nightrage. Their songwriting and performance continue to improve and amaze, and for proof, pick up a copy of “Insidious.” If you love metal, you owe it to yourself.

Highs: Every track is a continuous high - instrumentally, vocally, and in every other way imaginable.

Lows: At fifteen tracks, it's a tad long-winded.

Bottom line: Yet another melodeath masterpiece from guitarist/songwriter Marios Iliopoulos, and a shining metal highlight of 2011.

Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls
4.5 out of 5 skulls


Key
Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)