When we are talking about progressive metal combined with concept albums, then here in The Netherlands everybody thinks about just one name: Ayreon. This is really the best men can get.
Project Nightscape is an American counterpart. The project is founded by writer-film director David W. Edwards and guitarist Tony Gaglio. These two musicians have known each other from childhood. Project Nightscape is more or less progressive hard rock. Edwards and Gaglio named Black Sabbath, Deep Purple and Rush as their biggest influences. I can confess that they're right about that. The album contains a lot of songs with eighties hard rock influences combined with progressive rock frameworks. The project members are: Holland Andrews (lead vocals), Rich Ray (lead vocals, line readings), Tony Gaglio (lead, harmony & bass guitars), Tobin Sprout (guitar duet with Tony Gaglio (track 2)), Pete Trewavas (guitar duet with Tony Gaglio (track 9)), Vinny Appice (drums), David Coniglio (drums), Craig Bidondo (piano, Hammond organ, synths), Mirabai Peart (violin, viola), Anna Fritz (cello), John C. Savage (flute), Chelsea Barnes (backing vocals, line readings).
The story is about a 19th century doctor who travels the country. One day he encounters a blind boy alleged to have the power to communicate with the dead. As in the Ayreon albums, this project has a narrator. This makes the album even more exciting. In my opinion the whole album contains a dreamlike atmosphere.
The story of this album will be used for a forthcoming novel, "Nightscape: Early Darkness" due to be published winter 2017.
The album starts with church bells and a female voice which tells us something of the dark side of life. After this short intro a DIO-like song develops. Sharp guitar riffs and heavy drums are the base of the track, a strong female voice completes this great song.
Only Reason reminds me a little bit of Halloween, the German metal band. High female- and male vocals, straight guitars and staccato keyboard parts. The song has a really heavy character.
The third song is one of three short interludes on the album, Interlude I: The Last Case Of Dr. Lacy, Interlude II: The Dead Buried In The Air and Interlude III: Nova Regna. All the interludes have the same shape, narrative voices which sound like “ghosts” with background doomed sound effects. It is clear that is not an album which will lift you up. The album is filled with dark atmospheres. I must say, I like that.
Now Silence! Is a song with very nice harmonic guitar effects. Further on the vocals (male) are strong. It is a song which can't easily be put in a style box. It has its own sound. The song ends rather strangely. At the end Iron Maiden meets Black Sabbath, I would say.
Inmortuorum Memorias is a really interesting song. It sounds a little bit Black Sabbath. Especially the slow-, lingering sound.
A melodic bass line and a George Lynch guitar riff starts the song Occulted. The vocals in the song are strong. The highlight in this song is the duel guitar “battle”. They sound sharp as a knife.
Exorcised is a continuation of the former song Occulted. It's a short part, where bass guitar and drums take the lead. The atmosphere is rather psychedelic.
To The Sin Against Our Mercies, the title track, opens a little like Deep Purple. After the intro a mid-tempo ballad evolves. Female vocals fit beautifully in this song. Just as Deep Purple, this song lingers on.
After the project takes a little rest, on Hard Drift it is pedal to the metal. This song is just as the former, strongly influenced by Deep Purple. The Hammond organ is prominent. The shredding guitar solo is the cherry on the cake.
The Middle Sea At Rest is a low tempo song. Vocals remind me of Ian Gillan. In my opinion the influence of Deep Purple obvious. But don't get me wrong, this project has its own sound. This makes it a great album.
Starlost is the epic end of the album. A melodic acoustic guitar opens the song. Of course it doesn't go on for 10 minutes. After a few minutes the heavy drums and guitars take over. The song contains really great bridges. In these the keyboards and the lead guitars duel. It sounds like they've got the devil on their backs. All the vocal parts in the song are also great. Slowly the song gets to the end. All instruments fading away and just rain and a little thunder remain.
Resume, I like eighties hard rock, I like progressive rock and therefor I like Project Nightscape. It's a great concept album. For all the lovers of this genre this album is highly recommended, at least in my humble opinion.
**** Aad Bannink (edited by Tracy van Os van den Abeelen)
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