Nightrage - Wearing A Martyr's Crown
Lifeforce Records
Melodic Death Metal
11 songs (51:42)
Release year: 2009
Nightrage, Lifeforce Records
Reviewed by Khelek

To me Nightrage is the essence of what melodic death metal should sound like today. There are the melodic, sometimes melancholy leads and solos, the harsh growled death metal vocals, and the scattered clean singing parts. The songs keep you interested with intricate guitar work, heavy drums and catchy melodies. Nightrage has gone through many line-up changes in their short lifespan. Already they have a third vocalist in place and this is their fourth studio album. However, when listening to this album you might not guess that the band has had so many different members. Sure the albums mostly sound different, but there are always those defining characteristics of a sound that are hard to describe in words. These guys have again written some great material and they play it like they mean it.

The first track, Shed The Blood, creates an interesting melody with the guitars and vocal work of new vocalist Antony Hamalainen. At this point I'm not overly impressed by his vocal work, but it goes with the music well enough. The first guitar solo is pretty sweet, and then another comes in right behind it with the soaring dual melodies that I've come to expect from these guys. Collision Of Fate continues the strong energy with some intricate electric guitar work in the beginning, followed by a catchy verse. The acoustic guitar work near the end of the song is also really great. I really enjoy the catchiness of A Grim Struggle, the guitar melodies are really great and remind me of some of my favorite Nightrage songs. I have noticed that the same guitar tone is the same one used in their previous work, which really gives the music a sense of character and identity. The vocalist also uses some deeper growls here which sound pretty good. I think he may actually be growing on me, more than Strimmel did when he replaced Tomas Lindberg. The title track begins with a strong guitar and bass driven sound with infectious melodies once again. This song also introduces some clean, almost spoken word singing from Hamalainen. I must say the more I hear of this guy, the more I like him. The particular guitar melody here does sound very similar to one of their past songs, although I'm not sure which one. The opening of Abandon sounds influenced by Jester Race or perhaps Whoracle era In Flames. The acoustic guitar with the spoken vocals is also a nice change. This is a slower song than the previous two, but it still keeps the album moving with plenty of groovy, catchy guitar parts and a great chorus. The song also contains another excellent guitar solo. Futile Tears has a really catchy sounding melody, however it is a different sounding song, but in a good way. The clean vocals towards the end are a little weird but I definitely like them. Mocking Modesty starts out with some very calm, serene acoustic guitar, followed by the melodic lead guitar and then some heavy riffs crushing everything. This album, like many melodeath albums, is quite guitar-centric. The final track Sting Of Remorse is a breathtaking example of the abilities of guitarists Marios and Olof, and also featuring a guest solo from former member Gus G. This is a five minute long instrumental track that is really enjoyable to listen to, much like the older In Flames instrumentals such as Dreamscape and Man Made God.

I enjoyed this album on the first listen and as I give it more time on my stereo I find it growing on me even more. The new vocalist is pretty good, he somewhat reminds me of the original vocalist Tomas Lindberg, though a bit less raspy. The music on this album is of course somewhat different than the last album, which in my opinion had a bit too many softer, almost poppy parts. This album reminds me more of the Descent Into Chaos or Sweet Vengeance. The music is heavy, catchy, and melodic, and it keeps your attention the entire time. All the songs are around 4-5 minutes which is good for these types of songs which are mostly dominated by the verse-chorus pattern, sometimes with a bridge or some instrumental interludes woven in. The production seems to be a bit too focused on the lower end of the sound sometimes, but that can be overlooked because the instruments sound really great. As I said before, you can really tell this is a Nightrage album, both because of the production and their unique sound. Just about every song on this album has something to offer whether you want lots of melodic guitar work or some more aggressive death metal elements. In short these guys have impressed me once again with their skill in the melodeath arena.

Killing Songs :
A Grim Struggle, Abandon, Futile Tears, Mocking Modesty
Khelek quoted 87 / 100
Other albums by Nightrage that we have reviewed:
Nightrage - Abyss Rising reviewed by Ben and quoted 83 / 100
Nightrage - Demo 2000 reviewed by Ben and quoted no quote
Nightrage - Wolf To Man reviewed by Ben and quoted 89 / 100
Nightrage - Insidious reviewed by Khelek and quoted 88 / 100
Nightrage - A New Disease Is Born reviewed by Ben and quoted 84 / 100
To see all 8 reviews click here
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