The Breathing Shadow

Nightingale - The Breathing Shadow ©1995 Black Mark
1. Nightall Overture
2. Sleep
3. The Dreamreader
4. Higher Than The Sky
5. Recovery Opus
6. The Return To Dreamland
7. Gypsy Eyes
8. Alone?
9. A Lesson In Evil
10. Eye For An Eye

You know, after hearing the incredible gutteral voice of Dan Swanö in Edge of Sanity, Nightingale is a complete sensory shock. It has as much in common with his day job as...well, Stryper has with Emperor. Not to imply that Nightingale is a happy sappy trip. Instead, it is a two part installment to what amounts to a tale of a shadow that takes over the body of a stranger. I didn't catch that until I listened to the two Nightingale CD's back to back. At times, this project reminds me of Sisters of Mercy without all the hokey gothic trimmings. The moods are dark here, very dark. Swanö's singing voice (as opposed to the demons he unleashes in other bands) is thick and rich in tone.

The first installment was recorded by Dan Swanö without any outside help, and it took him a week. The sheer quality makes bands like Metallica (who take years to make albums) look positively pathetic. But that's beside the point. The guitar/keyboard driven rock is similar to--believe it or don't--the lite metal of the 80's, but far more devoloped and honest than those cock-rock bands. Aside from the programmed drums that appear on most tracks, there is a lush, warm, yet dark atmosphere to this concept album.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 02/1997

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The Closing Chronicles

Nightingale - The Closing Chronicles ©1996 Black Mark
1. Deep Inside Of Nowhere
2. Revival
3. Thoughts From A Stolen Soul
4. So Long (Still I Wonder)
5. Steal The Moon
6. Intermezzo
7. Alive Again

Dan Swanö is an interesting fellow who seems to have quite a bit in common with Devin Townsend. Both are as musically prolific as a brace of rabbits; both write, record, produce, sing, and play most of the instruments on their records; both have at least two vocal personas, with a clean voice on some records and some of the most grisly gargling this side of Quorthon's impersonation of Satan on others; accordingly, both put out ear-friendly music on even days of the week and extremely abrasive music the rest of the time.

Swanö's Nightingale project is a self-everything'ed blend of rock, metal, and some of the proggier tidbits found in classic American AOR. The songs alternate between slower dirges ("So Long (Still I Wonder)," "Intermezzo") and livelier rock numbers ("Steal the Moon," which sounds like a cross between REM and U2 if they hired metal musicians); the opener, "Deep Inside of Nowhere," is clearly a metal song inspired by the classic progressive concept albums of the seventies, and recalls WASP's excellent, if overly derivative, Crimson Idol and Still Not Black Enough. The general mood is not exactly happy, but it is more akin to Billy Joel or Carole King-style sadness ("Alive Again") than to Anathema's or Primordial's suicidal rue.

Swanö's clean voice is competent and warm, and recalls some of Opeth's quieter moments; his instrumental skills are more than adequate; and the production is completely acceptable, if not eardrum shattering, although some of the keyboard sounds could have used a little tweaking.

I picked up this album after neglecting it for months, thinking it might offer me a chance to be less than enthusiastic in a review (how sneaky I am). I am now sorry that I left this fine CD unattended on my "uuuh yeah hmmm oh well it was cheap" shelf for so long.

Review by Rog The Frog Billerey-Mosier

Review date: 09/2000

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Nightingale - I ©2000 Black Mark
1. Scarred For Life
2. Still In The Dark
3. The Game
4. Game Over
5. Remorse And Regret
6. Alonely
7. I Return
8. Drowning In Sadness
9. Dead Or Alive
10. The Journey's End
11. Breathing

As his next ante into his musical poker game, Dan Swanö has resurrected his Nightingale project for I as a followup to his excellent progressive death metal solo album, Moontower (which, according to news on his own homepage, will be his last metal album for a long time or perhaps for good as his interest in prog rock is finally recapturing his focus). I doesn't follow the same concept path as the two preceding Nightingale releases, but falls into the same general area of hard rock meeting tinges of goth and of course, prog rock. The result is a good, if uneven, release that may be more of a precursor to his future works.

The overall sound of the record is very warm and lush, especially for what is an essentially standard rock album. Swanö's long running interest in 70's prog puts a lot of keyboard sounds from that era into his music, especially on tracks like "Remorse and Regret". Swanö's sense of melody is also quite adept on that song as well as "The Game". But there are drawbacks to I. "Alonely" is ruined by Swanö's occasional need to sound as though his jaw is wired shut and teeth firmly clenched together on his attempt at emotional clean vocals. This problem also shows up on "The Journey's End". Other songs move along without much fanfare and do little to really actively encourage the listener to be excited. The tepid numbers tend to water down the better, stronger tunes. As a result, I doesn't demand as many repeated listens as some of his other albums.

Regardless of the lack of steam the record possesses throughout a good portion of it, I gives Swanö a chance to refocus his efforts towards the area of music where his heart most wishes to be. As a warm up, I should serve him well.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 09/2000

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