NIGHTINGALE is back, ladies and gentlemen. Their first album since 2007, Retribution (out now via InsideOut Music) finds the band in full Melodic Rock/AOR mode and I am A-OK with that!! I honestly didn’t know musician and producer/mixer extraordinaire Dan Swanö (vocals, guitars, keyboards) had this kind of lush melody in him. That’s not to say I wasn’t a fan of the WITHERSCAPE record from summer of 2013 (The Inheritance), I just think this stuff is a bit more palatable for me. And no, they haven’t abandoned the prog aspects of NIGHTINGALE; those elements are still prevalent on songs like “The Voyage of Endurance” and “27 (Curse Or Coincidence?)”. But they have opted to go with more rigid song structures this time around and the results speak for themselves.His brother and partner-in-crime Dag Swanö (bass, guitar, keyboards, vocals), Tom Björn (drums), and Erik Oskarsson (bass) combine for a very warm-sounding record full of infectious melodies.
“On Stolen Wings” comes on strong and gets the listener moving and grooving immediately, which is exactly what an album opener is supposed to do, right? Dan Swanö’s vocals are smooth as silk here and especially on “Lucifer’s Lament”. The voice, guitars, and keys all work in perfect harmony, as is the case with most of the tracks. However, this one really nails it. “Chasing the Storm Away” has that “great 80’s movie soundtrack song” feel to it and was one of my favorites right away. One of the heavier cuts is “Warriors of the Dawn” but the melodic hook is still there. The keys take center stage for much of another album standout “Forevermore”. Fuck, I love this song!!
On the ballad front “Divided I Fall” pretty much knocks the cover off the ball and is a truly beautiful and amazing piece of music. “Echoes of a Dream” is darker, yet still possesses a unique beauty and the guitars and keys combine to make something special. For some reason it took me a couple of listens to warm up to “The Maze”, another heavy tune. I’m not sure why, it just did. I like it just fine now, though. To be honest there really isn’t a weak song to be found anywhere on Retribution. I think NIGHTINGALE have crafted a damn near perfect record and it’s one that I’ll be playing a lot on my commute to the day gig for the forseeable future.
STANDOUT TRACKS:”Divided I Fall”, “Chasing the Storm Away”, “Forevermore”, “Lucifer’s Lament”, “On Stolen Wings”