The Burden of God is the eighth full-length album by French power metal act Nightmare. The album was released in May 2012. Nightmare is a band that first started in the early eighties playing traditional metal, broke up in 1987, and reformed in the late nineties playing power metal. The group’s power metal sound still contains traces of their traditional metal roots, and at various points in their career has also includes influences of both a progressive and a symphonic nature. The Burden of God has the band at their most symphonic than they’ve been for some time as their most recent two albums, Genetic Disorder (2007) and Insurrection (2009) had these elements greatly stripped back compared to their comeback releases Cosmovision (2001) and Silent Room (2003).
Despite their being more symphonic Nightmare retains their guitar driven power metal sound of those recent albums. They’re heavier than the majority of acts in their style and I’d say that The Burden of God is one of the group’s heaviest albums. Their music is carried by the excellent vocals of Jo Amore (originally the drummer back in the traditional metal days), who has a quality to his vocals that warrants comparisons to the late Ronnie James Dio. Jorn Lande would also be a valid reference point.
The album’s music is mostly power metal but every so often the band slow things down for some traditional metal based tracks. I’d say there’s perhaps a bit more traditional metal in the album than in some of their other second era albums. The symphonic element is used to great effect in the album but it is neither overpowering nor used in the normal sort of sound context that is common of symphonic power metal, which is most likely down to Nightmare not conforming to what have become the normal standards for power metal in the first place. They have the staple of speedy power metal riffs aplenty, but don’t limit themselves to them, and of course Amore’s vocals don’t fall under the whole ‘power metal must have high vocals’ thing. This is a band that has identity from the hordes of bands playing the style and I’d actually consider them to be on par in terms of quality of their output (especially from Silent Room onwards) to the likes of Blind Guardian, Helloween, Iced Earth and Gamma Ray, and The Burden of God marks another high quality release from the French band.
Highlights from the album appear frequently, and include Sunrise in Hell, Crimson Empire, Children of the Nation and most especially The Dominion Gate (Part III), a continuation of the series of songs which began on The Dominion Gate (2005) album and continued on Genetic Disorder, which features guest vocals from Magali Luyten, who has performed with bands such as Beautiful Sin, Over Us Eden and Virus IV among others. Her vocals go extremely well with Jo Amore’s. They actually have pretty similar styles of singing since Luyten is certainly one female vocalist who definitely sings metal opposed to the opera or pop that many of metal’s female vocalists do. I expect that’s why Luyten was chosen to guest here. The track also features an excellent symphonic instrumental section, only rivalled on the album by the epic intro instrumental, Gateways to the Void, which is a top quality way to kick off the album leading into Sunrise in Hell.
The Burden of God for me definitely ranks very high up when considering Nightmare’s discography. The band for me has been on a real roll since the release of Silent Room in 2003 and although I can’t say that The Burden of God tops Genetic Disorder, the album that for me is Nightmare’s masterpiece, they give it a right good go and deliver an album that is easily top three material out of their eight main releases. It’s easily a step up from Insurrection, a great album, but lacking the same spark as the album’s released either side of it. This is power metal how it is meant to be played and the album comes highly recommended.
(Originally written for Heavy Metal Haven (http://metaltube.freeforums.org))