• Nightmare - Aeternam (AFM Records) Album Review



    Released by: AFM Records
    Released on: October 2nd, 2020.
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    Once compatriots of classic French Metal stalwarts acts like TRUST, ADX, SORTILEGE and H-BOMB, NIGHTMARE have a long and storied history. After releasing two well-regarded underground platters in the mid 80’s on legendary British cult label Ebony in “Waiting For The Twilight” and “Power of The Universe” the band essentially broke up barring sporadic reformations until coming back for good in 1999 with the “Astral Deliverance” mini Lp. This was an interesting era for the French Metal scene as reformation fever was very much in the air then. SORTILÈGE and a few other key bands like ADX made a pronounced return to the festival circuit. This led to a meaty double live album called “Live Deliverance” which mixed newer tracks with classics and cemented original drummer Joe Amore as the lead vocalist.

    But now it is 2020 and Joe is long gone, NIGHTMARE have traded in their charmingly naive trad metal with a Gallic touch (though sung in English - a commercial concession that NIGHTMARE have always stuck with) for a robust epic metal sound with a pinch of death in the vocals and only original bassist Yves Campion remains from the first demo.



    Amore’s departure paved the way for the first of two female vocalists. Aeternam sees the debut of the smoking hot Madie (no last name like a true rock star) and the lady is in fine fettle here. The whole record is juiced on some serious adrenaline and Madie has a very powerful epic voice that can soar to Bruce Dickinson levels when needed but also descend to death growls on occasion. A few songs like the probably Friday The 13th inspired “Crystal Lake” feature some highly melodic vocals pared with similarly toned music but opener “Temple Of Acheron” kicks off with a furious blast beat spiced riff. Three quarters of the way through “Downfall Of A Tyrant” the band lock down into a ferocious double bass frenzy and a martial riff that sounds like War Metal. In fact, one of the defining characteristics of this record is the stellar and brutally aggressive drumming by Niels Quiais. The guitars - courtesy of Franck Milleliri and Matt Assekberghs - are excellent as well with a focus on melodic twin guitar patterns paired with the blast beat flavored drums.

    The overall effect is a Grade A power metal album that avoids the “happy goofy” vibe of much else in the genre as well as steering clear of repetitive elements. This is also a very well-recorded record with deep rich bottom end and terrific instrument separation. The guitars really ride the crest of the furious bass and drums perfectly. This is never more evident than on “Under The Ice” with its staccato riff and commanding vocal. Another highlight is the heavily satanic closer “Anneliese” which features some full on Death vocals and crazy audio FX.

    This one comes highly recommended for the core demographic it is aimed at. If you like well written and played power metal on the heavier end of the spectrum it is pretty hard to go wrong with Aeternam. The songs are epic but also fast and hard hitting and devoid of the kind of silliness that often taints this genre. And vocalist Madie is both an accomplished singer and formidable presence in the band. NIGHTMARE have come a long way from their roots but the band as it stands now is a highly viable proposition. Check them out!