French metallers Nightmare have been at it a long time – since 1979, to be precise. Over that time, the band has released 10 studio albums, primarily in the 2000s as they had split up in the ’80s, reforming around the turn of the century.
For the most part they’ve been a power metal band, but some recent lineup changes may alter that style here on Dead Sun. Gone are longtime members (and brothers) Jo and David Amore, the singer and drummer respectively.
Replacing the Amore brothers results in a profound impact on the band’s sound. Not so much because of David’s replacement, the excellent Olivier Casula, but more so because Jo has been replaced by powerhouse female vocalist Maggy Luyten.
I’ll be honest: I’d listened to Dead Sun three times before reading the promo blurb and realizing the vocals were female. Luyten’s power and register are such that yours truly had been under the impression that the singer was male with a higher than usual pitch. Oops.
Luyten’s vocals won’t be for everyone, but there’s no denying the power behind them. She has a deep, snarly rasp that would be most similar in style to the old sleaze metal band Smashed Gladys’s singer, Sally Cato, only much more metallic in style. The opening track “Infected” starts with a fist-raising intro before Casula shows us what he’s made of with an intricate fill. A killer riff takes over, and then Luyten comes in with a super-low growl, which gradually grows into an unearthly howl before kicking into the song proper.
The rest of the album follows a similar path. “Tangled in the Roots” has a pretty neat riff central to it, a good galloping pace, and an anthemic chorus. One of the first singles is “Ikarus,” which hearkens back to the band’s power metal roots, as does the title track. Heavier fare exists as well, such as the album closer “Starry Skies Gone Black.” All told, there’s enough variety, hooks, riffs, and melodies to hold our interest throughout.
There’s still a hint of power metal in Dead Sun, but it’s now merely an influence. This is predominantly a modern metal album, with slick production, excellent guitar work, big choruses, and pummeling drums. Give it a shot. You’ll have to decide for yourself if the singing is your cup of tea, but if it is Dead Sun will be a great listen.
(released January 20, 2017 on AFM Records)