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NIGHTFEAR - Apocalypse

Release date February 5/20 (Fighter Records)

On Apocalypse, Nightfear’s third full length release since their 2008 inception, these Spaniards have produced an interesting mix of traditional heavy metal, power metal, and progressive rock. The main strength of this 10-song, 56-minute album is immediately felt through its superior writing. Almost every song has an epic feel to it, particularly noticeable on the longer songs such as “Angels of Apocalypse” at over 8 minutes and “Through the Stars” at 6 and a half minutes. Intricate and well thought out progressions and timing changes show just how carefully these songs were crafted.

Lorenzo Mutiozabal’s vocals are interesting, and reminiscent of Biff Byfford’s on the last few Saxon albums. He tries to sing it clean, but really, he doesn’t have the typical voice for that (and that is a good thing). Mutiozabal’s voice has a rough edge to it that makes it far more engaging than a typical smooth crooner, and fits metal much better as a result. The guitar work of Ismael Retana and Victor Duran is at its most interesting with the Helloween-style harmonies that come in and out of various songs.

The one fly in the ointment is the production. Why do the current crop of metal album producers hate the rhythm section so much? Manuel Moreno’s bass is barely discernible in the mix, and on the fast songs such as "The Evil in You" and "We are Back", Osckar Bravo’s drums are so over-produced they sound like a boring computer-generated drum machine.

There are no bad songs on this album, but check out instrumental "Psychokiller" or "A Better World" if you just want a taste of what this album is like.

Overall, this is a complex album that seeks to do more than simply bash out metal songs. This is a talented bunch of guys who have put a lot of thought into their product, and for those who appreciate the details, this is for you.

(7.5)

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