NIGHTSCAPE – Symphony Of The Night

NIGHTSCAPE - Symphony Of The Night


Lion Music
Release date: September 1, 2005

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When slipping this CD into your player, the unwary may be thinking that they have popped on the new Stratovarius or Helloween album by mistake, but what you have instead is the debut release from Swedish rockers, Nightscape.

Nightscape was formed back in 2000 by vocalist Simon Akesson and guitarist Joakim Wiklund whilst at school. They patiently honed their craft in Akessons’ house, dabbling with compositions and arrangements on a home computer.

The remainder of the line-up was completed by friends Stefan Widmark (bass), Tyler Voelz (drums) and Markus Sundquist (keyboards). The fledgling band spent several years rehearsing and touring around the local circuit before producing their first home demo. The interest generated by the band prompted Finnish label Lion Music to snap them up and release their first album, Symphony of the Night.

“Haunted Hill” kicks off proceedings with a brief moody keyboard intro before the guitars and drums come marching along in an almost militaristic fashion, followed by a flurry of neo-classic guitars and harpsichords, prior to the main riff and rampant double bass drumming, which tear along at a fair pace. This really is a gem of an opener, and touches most Symphonic/Speed Metal reference points along the way. You’ll hear galloping drums, swirling synth lines, and rapid fire riffs topped off by Akessons powerful stratospheric vocal range, which underpins the melodious hook line of the chorus. At times, Akesson comes across like a mix of such seasoned luminaries as Michael Kiske and Timo Kotipelto. The song really takes off in the mid-section, where the tempo drops a notch to allow for a delightfully dramatic, but all too brief, choral section to take center stage before the pace kicks in again to take the listener through an exhilarating guitar and keyboard interplay. The simple yet gorgeous keyboard refrain, which follows the staccato riffing at around the four minute mark, is truly inspired.

Hot on the heels comes the rampaging “Higher Than Life” and “Merlin,” both successfully maintain the pace of the opener. The latter adds a more atmospheric touch in the keyboard department.

Along with the album opener, “Across the Sky” provides the real highpoint of the album. This is a more mid-paced, almost Progressive affair, with Akesson given real space to show off his vocal talents. Again, the keyboards offer a real ambience without ever overwhelming matters, and the vocal harmonies on the chorus add further textures to the overall sound.

“Home” seems a little out of place on the album, sounding almost like U.K Progsters Pendragon or I.Q. in delivery. It may be a bit of a departure for the album, but the song shows a direction the band may explore again in the future and gives a little respite to the more bombastic approach of the rest of the album.

The remainder of the album follows a similar formula of fast-paced Symphonic Progressive Metal before coming to an unusually short ending, clocking in at around the 45 minute mark.

At times, the album sounds a little one-paced and the influences of the likes of Helloween and Stratovarius are clear, however, when Nightscape does vary things like on “Across the Sky,” they really do hit the mark.

What is remarkable about Nightscape is that the eldest member of the band is a staggering 20 years old, with rhythm guitarist Pontus Akesson being all of 18. This puts the minor criticisms above into perspective. For such a young band to release such a well-played, professionally produced album, that can be compared to some of the giants of the genre, is high praise indeed.

There is no doubting that this is one talented band, and if they can build on this solid platform and develop a style of their own, then you’ll will be hearing a lot more of Nightscape in the future.


  • Mick Burgess

    Mick is a reviewer and photographer here at Metal Express Radio, based in the North-East of England. He first fell in love with music after hearing Jeff Wayne's spectacular The War of the Worlds in the cold winter of 1978. Then in the summer of '79 he discovered a copy of Kiss Alive II amongst his sister’s record collection, which literally blew him away! He then quickly found Van Halen I and Rainbow's Down To Earth, and he was well on the way to being rescued from Top 40 radio hell!   Over the ensuing years, he's enjoyed the Classic Rock music of Rush, Blue Oyster Cult, and Deep Purple; the AOR of Journey and Foreigner; the Pomp of Styx and Kansas; the Progressive Metal of Dream Theater, Queensrÿche, and Symphony X; the Goth Metal of Nightwish, Within Temptation, and Epica, and a whole host of other great bands that are too numerous to mention. When he's not listening to music, he watches Sunderland lose more football (soccer) matches than they win, and occasionally, if he has to, he goes to work as a property lawyer.

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