Review: “Abyss Rising” by Nightrage

In part inspired by Dante’s “Inferno“, the return of Greek and Swedish Melodic Death Metallers Nightrage with the final part in their trilogy of albums (2017’s “The Venomous”, 2019’s “Wolf to Man”) has been described as the depiction of mankind living in it’s own hell, a hell it has created through the destruction of the planet and one that will continue until the abyss opens up to consume all before it. Mixed and mastered by Fredrik Nordstrom at Studio Fredman (Architects, In Flames, Opeth), it also sees a the same line up perform on back to back records with bassist Francisco Escalona, drummer Dino George Stamoglou, guitarist Magnus Söderman and vocalist Ronnie Nyman all joining the only original member remaining in the group in guitarist Marios Iliopoulos…

…there is no doubt that the revolving door of musicians in Nightrage has had an impact on their career and direction over the past twenty two years but it has to be said that their last record “Wolf To Man” is one of their finest and most well received. So going into this one there is perhaps more of an air of expectation and put simply it does not disappoint. The ninth studio record from Nightrage is rooted firmly in Swedish Melodic Death Metal of the kind that inspired the 2003 era of Metalcore with the title track setting the standard which doesn’t drop, opening up the ear drums for catchy chorus, melodic hooks and a wealth of leads to provide light to the crushing shade of the rhythms. The fast pacing coupled with moments of guitar stylings not too far adrift from the work of It Dies Today and As I Lay Dying and All That Remains make for something that has an instantly recognisable and easily digestible quality to it; unlike some others in the genre, there is no wait to get into this and with the catchy nature of some of the choruses you may even find yourself singing along on the first spin.

The vibrant leads of “Falsifying Life” and “9th Circle Of Hell” make for stand out moments and it has to be said that the riffs that run through the core of the album are ruthlessly efficient as well as being of the ear worm variety that get into your head and don’t leave. However as great as this album is there is one major problem and something that stands out like a sore thumb after it’s been smashed by a hammer. Interlude “Portal Of Dismay” effectively splits the album into two halves but  rather than a palette cleanser it kills the momentum of the album, stopping it’s flow like an anchor. In truth the only place where it could have worked would have been an an introduction piece because it’s very much like a jigsaw piece in the wrong puzzle box. Ignoring that the rest of the album is simply Swedish Melodic Death Metal at its finest, a guitar driven record of intertwining heaviness, melody and acrid caustic vocals from Nyman being consistently powerful. He does offer up a few cleaner moments that help to build atmosphere but keeps them tastefully few and far between. Nightrage have to to down as one of the most underrated bands around, famed more for those musicians they’ve exported than their own material but in the last couple of albums they’ve consistently put that to bed, this current line up releasing the bands strongest material [8/10]

Track listing

  1. Abyss Rising
  2. Swallow Me
  3. Nauseating Oblivion
  4. Dance Of Cerberus
  5. Falsifying Life
  6. Portal Of Dismay (Interlude)
  7. Shadows Embrace Me
  8. 9th Circle Of Hell
  9. The Divergent (Instrumental)
  10. Cursed By The Gift Of Sight
  11. False Gods
  12. Pest Ridden Tide
  13. Silence Of The Darkened Soul (Instrumental)

Abyss Rising” by Nightrage is out 18th February 2022 via Despotz Music

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