Album Review: Abyss Rising by Nightrage (Despotz Records)

Melodeath stalwarts, Nightrage, return with their 9th studio album titled Abyss Rising released on the 18th of February via Despotz Records.

I became a fan when my unhealthy obsession with melodic death metal led me to Nightrage’s 2011 release, Insidious. From there, I listened backwards loving their earlier work and stayed on board for all future releases. The Puritan, The Venomous, Wolf to Man and now Abyss Rising. I’m a big fan and genuinely believe these guys to probably be the most criminally underrated band in metal today. Not for me though. For me, every release is greeted with immense excitement and confidence in the quality that will surely be delivered.

Forming in 2000 so with 22 years under their belts they have consistently delivered masterful music despite the band changing considerably almost album  y album until hitting a more settled state over the last few albums. That settled feeling translates into the music too. You feel the stability and power the band have and, with that consistency of line up came consistency of music and the opportunity for the band to evolve and grow.

Nightrage today is founder and only original member (and one of the greatest guitarists of our era), Marios Iliopoulos on clean vocals and guitar, on vocals we have Ronnie Nyman, on bass it’s Francisco Escalona, also on guitars we have Magnus Söderman and on drums, Dino George Stamoglou.

Nightrage Abyss Rising LineUp

Speaking about the album, Nightrage state:

“This is the latest opus in the band’s long career, the ninth album of a hellish path of many ups and downs, a path, that under normal circumstances easily could defeat any other band, but not Nightrage.

The new album is called ”Abyss Rising” and it’s the final realization and the last chapter of the dark conceptual story we followed through the previous 2 albums. We as humans has been speeding towards our inevitable end, our time is since long up and we are already in the hell that we have created for ourselves here upon mother earth.”

Nightrage Abyss Rising Album Cover

Abyss Rising is 13 tracks and around 40 minutes in length and we head straight off with the title track, Abyss Rising. Typically Nightrage, the tempo lifts and we hit head spinning riffs and aggression perfectly balanced off by the melodic tinge of the lead guitars. The evolution of the band is slight but there in additions like the backing vocals and ever impressive lead vocal power and passion. The lead guitars are majestic, the rhythm section is heavy and infectious. These guys are masters at what they do.

That opening track really sums up the whole album in regards to quality so is a good choice for title track. Across the whole of the album, the band deliver melodeath of the utmost quality but also with loads of variety within the songs. Swallow Me lulls you in with a clean melody before dropping a neck breaking head banging section. The drums are immense in this track and pair beautifully with the clever and exciting guitar work. Nauseating Oblivion is a ripper sure to get the pits swirling and raging. I love the frenetic energy to it and the harsh vocals are perfect to deliver the message. It has a ripper of a chorus., another hallmark of Nightrage, a gorgeous slow down with clean vocals that then leads to an explosive headbanging section to end to. Brilliant.

Dance of Cerberus has a stunning melodic intro before descending into a heavy but rhythmic section where the bass and drums really own the show. Another cracking chorus and huge solo add extra spice to the track as well. Falsifying life is all that is great about Nightrage. The grooving rhythm, the melodic guitars, punchy riffs, exciting drumming and aggressively passionate vocals. I love how the lead melody wraps itself around the vocals in the verses and these choruses just get more and more infectious. A breather comes next in the form of an instrumental interlude called Portal of Dismay.

It doesn’t offer much musically, just being some atmospheric sounds to try and keep the album in line with the story Nightrage are delivering. We head into Shadows Embrace Me and a dark track with a blackened feel to the tone and melodies. The intro is fire, that screaming lead guitar and infectious drum and bass sing together in perfect harmony. It’s nice to see the band experimenting and while, on the face of it, kit has a lot of Nightrage’s typical qualities like another solid chorus and mesmerising guitars, the structure is creative and the verses really feel quite unique. The more I listen to this track, the more I fall in love with it. It is phenomenal.

9th Circle of hell keeps up the darker feel for this section of the story with Ronnie sound absolutely driven on vocals. It does turn into pretty typical melodeath at times but in a good way, mixing in that catchy chorus with banging drums and exciting guitars. It’s typical of the genre but that doesn’t have to mean bad or predictable, it is just absolutely rock solid metal.

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This section closes with another instrumental called The Divergent. It is well placed, keeping the album paced nicely and also not allowing you to become over saturated in the rest of the music. This is a nice instrumental too – a bit of a palette cleanser with a bit of a guitar virtuoso performance. We head onwards on this journey into the raging beats called Cursed by the Gift of Sight. I love that title, by the way. The drums and bassy riffs set us off into a furious writhing beast of aggression. There is still room for a solid chorus but for the most part, you will find yourself just headbanging away to this track happily lost on the music.

As we near the end, Nightrage still have plenty of fuel in the tank starting with the intense grooving number, False Gods. That intro of quick drums, chunky riffs and pinching lead guitar is an instant hook. While not the stand out track on the album, it has plenty of brilliant moments and just try not headbanging along to that ending. Pest Ridden Tide is the penultimate track and is everything you know and love about that band. A clean melody plays you in before it jumps into a raging ball of fire with an onslaught of drums and riffing and vocals that hit you hard. While it maintains that feeling of fury throughout, it still has enough melody and groove to make it infectious within the maelstrom of metal.

And so the album closes out then with a final short instrumental called Silence of the Darkened Soul. A nice little guitar lick with a morose tone that for me ends the album and story in the right way.

Abyss Rising is a very strong album. If you are a lover of melodeath, this has all the hallmarks you want with strong riffing, loads of aggression and of course, plenty of melody and groove to keep you interested throughout. Being a long term fan, I love hearing the band grow and evolve and, after all this time still manage to have the drive and ambition to keep pushing forward no matter the obstacles they face. Abyss Rising is probably not going to change metal for the masses – melodeath rarely gets that level of attention but for anyone who listens to this, you are in for a real treat. Abyss rising is a fiery beast of an album jam packed with intense vocals and imaginative, catchy as hell music that will have you headbanging along as the 39 minutes passes in what feels like seconds.

Nightrage’s Abyss Rising is out now on all the usual streaming services or, do the best thing and pick up a physical copy from Bandcamp, here.

Nightrage Links



  • Brendan Fisher

    Owner/Editor/Writer/YouTuber - Heavy Metal and reading, two things I have always loved so they are the two areas you will find most of my reviews. Post apocalyptic is my jam and I always have a book on the go and have for decades now. From a metal perspective, age has softened my inadequacies and I now operate with an open mind, loving many bands from many sub genres but having a particular admiration for the UK underground scene. In my other time, when not focused on Dad duties and work, I try to support the craft beer movement by drinking as much of it as I can and you will also find me out on the streets, walking. I love walking, I love exploring new places and snapping nature photos as I go.

Abyss Rising by Nightrage (Despotz Records)
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