Nergard mastermind Andreas Nergard calls a do-over on 2013’s debut album Memorial For A Wish, a guest-star studded foray into keyboard-washed Melodic Metal territory in the vein of Ayreon or Avantasia. Promising an augmentation of sound quality, the mostly re-recorded tracks of the new version are packaged alongside the original in a deluxe digipack double CD so that listeners can hear the difference and judge for themselves. The running order is rearranged, the new version bookended by a pair of nine-minute mini-epics, with “Angels” kicking things off and a brand new track, “Inside Memories”, bringing things home. “Angels” is particularly lush, the blend of voices and sound layers a pleasing and representative intro that sets up the second track “The Haunted”, which along with “Inside Memories”, is new to the 2018 version. “Hell On Earth” is next, one of the harder tracks on the album, wedding a chunky guitar riff and throbbing rhythm to a Melodic Metal chorus. “Stay”, a slow vocal showcase, pulls back the throttle considerably, but follow-up stunner”A Question Of God” brings the tempo back and, thanks largely to a killer chorus and top-flight Tony Mills vocal, provides the album with a clear single. The song was great in 2013, it is great again in 2018. The next three tracks, “An Everlasting Dreamscape”, “Nightfall”, and “Requiem” are more subtle, slow to mid-tempo numbers; closer “Inside Memories” hits a little harder. Nergard, the man not the band, coaxed some great vocal performances from his guests, and he knows when to let the songs breathe, keeping the arrangements uncluttered, unlike some composers working in Melodic Metal who feel the need to jam an excess of “virtuosic” segments that are more about showing off than about creating listenable songs. Under his steady guidance, Memorial For A Wish avoids these traps and is highly listenable in either incarnation.
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