It has been a hard week. Knowing that Nightrage’s new album, The Venomous, was released 7 days ago but not being able to listen to it. Man, that has been tough. Unfortunately due to problems out of the band’s control, the album just didn’t get released on Apple Music when it was scheduled too. I have been watching positive comments and reviews going up all over the internet while impatiently waiting. It is finally here and I am sure it will have been worth the wait.
The Venomous is Nightrage’s 7th full length studio album and was released via Despotz Records on the 31st of March. Nightrage, a Greek/Swedish melodic death metal band have been releasing quality music for years now. Despite the constant rises and falls of the genre, Nightrage have always stayed true. They are one of the pioneers of the genre and have stayed loyal to their musical preferences no matter what the current popular choices were. The Venomous, just like The Puritan before and just like Insidious before that, aren’t standard albums released in a stale genre. They are the albums that take a genre and drag it forwards, refusing to allow it to become dull and predictable.
With the absolute force of nature, Marios Iliopolous, at the helm, the band have grown from strength to strength in recent years. They have moved from a side project of sorts with multiple line up changes to a full time, 5 piece band. They are working inspirationally hard to make better, heavier, more melodic metal. To better themselves and to better the genre.
All that can only be taken seriously though when music is released. When you get to hear the output of all the extra work and the inclusion of extra members. It is then you get to hear whether their hard work is paying off.
Nightrage have released 4 singles so far from The Venomous. It became very clear while listening to those that this album was going to be special. It also showed that this was going to be another huge step forward for the band and the genre. I loved all 4, I really did. Bemoan, Affliction, title track The Venomous and In Abhorrence are just brilliant examples of a band that are on fire right now. They are riff heavy, groove like songs with hard hitting vocals and powerful solos and melody.
I was right to be excited. Despite how awesome those 4 singles are, I’m not sure they are even the best songs on the album. So, on to The Venomous then.
There are 12 tracks on the album which comes in at approximately 50 minutes long. There is a solid mix of music on here that keeps the album feeling fresh from track to track. We have songs that lean heavily on the melodic side, songs that are more mid tempo groove and a couple that go for all out brutality.
The prime example of that brutality comes on the second track, Metamorphosis/Day of Wrath which has an intro that hits with the force of a sledge hammer. Lawrence Dinamarca absolutely hammers the drums over a huge roar from Ronnie Nyman. The riff that accompanies is furiously fast as are the vocals. The pre chorus is awesome – seriously, the drumming speed in this section is jaw dropping. The chorus is steadier with a cool melodic guitar riff leading. That in turn jumps into a fantastic solo before returning to full on death metal blasting.
The Blood has a brilliant riff running through the verse over quick drumming. It is fast and heavy with Anders Hammer really hammering away on the bass. Ronnie spits out vocals at pace but it is great to see the switch in vocal style used in the chorus – it’s heavy still but just a touch cleaner from the backing vocals. Another huge solo hits you before it changes into a rhythmic riff section that will have you head banging.
So much of this album is made up of these brilliant riffs and rhythms that compel you to bang your head. The catchy rhythm of the slower, more complex and, well, just brilliant Affliction or the quicker but low toned, chuggy Bemoan. You just hear an intro and are instantly drawn in.
From Ashes into Stone has a brilliant guitar intro over little drum blasts before settling into a slow and hard hitting riff over blisteringly fast drums. The lead guitar flourishes over rhythm guitar riffs are interweaved perfectly. Magnus Söderman is a damn fine musician and seems to work perfectly alongside Marios. The chorus is catchy and cool and the solo near the end of the track is perfect.
Along with whiplash inducing riffs, the guitar solos stand out on The Venomous as well placed, passionate and exciting. One of my favourites is on Disturbia which is a heavy, rhythmic song but the solo joins in and pulls it into a slower, more melodic direction before returning to a fast, chugging riff and back to the heaviness again. I love the solos on In Abhorrence as well. It is a long one and again contrasts to the rest of the song which is fast and heavy. The solo is fast but feels more open and emotional, dragging you along on the rising crest of a wave.
It isn’t all heavy and rhythmic though – of course, being a melodic death metal band we must have the melodic section. That is here in spades too but used carefully and cleverly to give The Venomous the feel of a heavy/death metal album with a sprinkling of melody. Catharsis is one such song which starts with a nice electric guitar melody before deep booming drums join in. Dual guitars perfectly off set each other in this slow start. As they fade out we get a small drum fill and then one of the heaviest verses on the album. Ronnie is on fire here, spitting out extended sentences with power and precision.
Trail of Ghosts has a little acoustic melody going before a big sounding electric riff comes and takes over quite brilliantly. The verses are shouted over a quick drum beat but with a gentle melodic guitar line for the first few bars and heavier riff for the next few. It is also returns to this nice melody as a build up to a brilliant dual guitar solo. Denial of the Soul is an instrumental and so is naturally packed full of melodic sections. An acoustic intro with a sees a deep sounding bass and gentle electric line join in. The acoustic leads here though. At least for a while. The electric starts playing with freedom with soaring and swooping lines that are infectious. All this while that gentle acoustic melody plays on.
It’s quite a beautiful piece of music though I would maybe question it’s place as the closer to the album. I just feel that an album of such force maybe should end with a statement of intent. Something like the rip roaring metal track Desolation and Dismay. It’s the penultimate track. Again it has an infectious riff that will have your head nodding along. The drums sound big here and little guitar flourishes elevate the riff to something bigger. It has another great solo over quick but gentler drums which builds into a heavier solo with faster drums. The solos is huge. There are at least three separate phases to it before it hooks back into the vicious chorus and head banging rhythm.
Other than maybe swapping the last two tracks around in regards to their position on the album, I can’t fault The Venomous. There is just so much goodness here. So many great riffs and solos and songs. All 5 musicians work perfectly off of each other. Nightrage are jam packed full of experienced pros and that shines through but with the zest and vitality of a band starting off their career.
The album has no “filler” it is just good track after good track. Each song has something new and interesting to it. Something fresh to it, making the 50 minutes feel like it has passed in 5 minutes. As a band, I admire Nightrage tremendously due to their tireless hard work, never say die attitude but mostly for the high quality heavy metal they write and release.
The Venomous might just be the best album Nightrage have released to date. It is creative, exciting and as crushing as it is melodic. This is a band on form and a band that deserve your support.
The Venomous is available now on all the usual streaming services. You can and should also pick up a physical copy, along with some cool merch from Despotz Records.
The Final Score - 9.5/10