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3.33 | 8 ratings | 2 reviews
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Album · 1995


1. Nightfall Overture (8:10)
2. Sleep... (4:40)
3. The Dreamreader (5:24)
4. Higher Than the Sky (6:15)
5. Recovery Opus (2:15)
6. The Return to Dreamland (3:04)
7. Gypsy Eyes (3:38)
8. Alone? (6:37)
9. A Lesson in Evil (5:53)
10. Eye for an Eye (7:22)

Total Time: 53:21


- Dan Swanö / Vocals, Guitars, Bass, Keyboards, Drum Programming

About this release

Release date: January 1, 1995
Label: Black Mark Production

Engineering, mastering, sound production and cover art by Dan Swanö

Thanks to bartosso, UMUR, diamondblack for the updates


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Nightingale's The Breathing Shadow is a gothic rock narrative concept album underpinned by technical metal and progressive rock songwriting and production aesthetics. I personally prefer this one to the sequel, on which Dan Swanö slips back into his more accustomed tech/prog metal style and consequently the unique flavour of the project ended up somewhat diluted; here, he lets his multi-insturmentalist flag fly high and masquerades as the sort of progressive gothic rock band I kind of wish we had more of on the scene. Of interest both to prog fans who like a little goth and goth fans with fond memories of that genre's more progressive moments (like Elizium by Fields of the Nephilim), though Dan's Andrew Eldritch impression wavers a bit and largely the music tends to follow past precedents set by superior goth bands rather than breaking genuine new ground.
"The Breathing Shadow" is the debut full-length studio album by Swedish goth/progressive rock/metal act Nightingale. The album was released through Black Mark Productions in 1995. Nightingale was at this point a one-man side project for Edge of Sanity frontman Dan Swanö, where he could live out his goth and neo progressive rock dreams. An interest that had been hinted at a couple of times on Edge of Sanity´s otherwise death metal oriented albums with tracks like "Sacrificed" and "Black Tears". "The Breathing Shadow" was recorded and mixed by Dan Swanö at his own Unisound Studio within a week in January 1995.

Later releases by Nightingale also embrace hard rock and AOR, but the music on "The Breathing Shadow" can be described as a combination of goth rock and neo progressive rock with a slight metal edge. Picture how a combination of The Sisters of Mercy and The Mission mixed with Marillion and IQ would sound like and you´re half way there.

The music is driven by very melodic guitar riffs, soaring guitar leads and Dan Swanö´s melodic vocals. Keyboards are also used extensively and for the most part feature eighties synth sounds (check out the synth bass in "Gypsy Eyes"). The goth rock element in the sound is mainly due to the low register vocal sections by Dan Swanö and the programmed drums that remind me of The Sisters of Mercy. The material on "The Breathing Shadow" is generally of high quality but highlights that deserve a mention are "Nightfall Overture", "Sleep...", "The Dreamreader" and "A Lesson in Evil". The lyrics form a concept story that is continued on subsequent albums.

The musicianship on the album is strong. Dan Swanö is a multi-instrumentalist and plays everything but the drums. The drums are programmed and if you ask me they could have been a bit more varied. It´s a minor issue though and they don´t ruin my listening experience. Dan Swanö´s vocals need a mention too. He masters both very melodic clean vocals and also more monotone goth rock styled low register vocals. The vocal lines are very melodic and hook laden.

The sound production is decent but it´s obvious that Dan Swanö didn´t have much time to fine tune the sound. It´s a sound production that has taken me a while to appreciate, but I guess you can forgive much when the music is good.

To my ears "The Breathing Shadow" is a pretty original sounding album with it´s mix of goth rock and neo progressive rock, but it´s the strong vocals and the memorable vocal lines that take the prize. The sound production is a slight show stopper but I´d say a 3.5 star (70%) rating is deserved.

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