NIGHTINGALE — The Breathing Shadow (review)

NIGHTINGALE — The Breathing Shadow album cover Album · 1995 · Progressive Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
3.5/5 ·
"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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