One of melodic death metals most persistent and consistent bands, Nightrage, release their new album, Wolf to Man, on the 29/03/2019 via Despotz Records.
We love Nightrage over here at GBHBL. After hearing the immense Insidious we headed into their back catalogue to unearth other gems like Wearing a Martyr’s Crown and Sweet Vengeance to name a couple. Since Insidious, the albums have been equally strong, if not stronger. The Puritan is a vicious jaunt into the extreme side of melodeath. The Venomous keeps the heaviness but drags in tons more melody and is one of my favourite albums of that year, 2017.
Nightrage are held together, it seems, by the one ever present member and insanely talented guitarist, Marios Iliopoulos. You can read our chat with Marios here. Around him there have been loads of member changes over their 20 year existence. Most of the change came in earlier years and they have been more settled recently. That settled status has come through into the music with the band sounding as good as they ever have and more together then they ever have. The rest of the band are, on bass its Fransisco Escalona and on drums its Dino George Stamoglou. On vocals it’s Ronnie Nyman and on guitars it’s Magnus Söderman.
We have already listened to, reviewed and loved three singles from Wolf to Man. Read our thoughts on The Damned, title track, Wolf to Man and By Darkness Drawn by following the links. Wolf to Man has 12 tracks and around 44 minutes of music on it in total. So plenty to get your teeth stuck into.
We start off with Starless Nights which is as great a song as a band could hope to have open an album for them. Glorious haunting melody starts us off. Strong harmonies and passionate lines build before descending into a wicked drum solo and then into a vicious roar. Hard hitting riffs and venomous vocals make up the verses before a bit more melody creeps in to the catchy chorus. There us a cracking little solo and Ronnie hits some seriously dark tones on the vocals. It leads straight into the fire cracker of a title track, Wolf to Man. A song that starts with some serious groove before descending into one of the heaviest Nightrage songs I have heard.
Embrace the Nightrage comes next and while having a slightly cheesy title, the song is anything but. Another brilliant drum solo kicks things off on another track that sees Nightrage hit hard and with aggression. The verses are pure venom with blast beats and deathly growls showing the band willing to lean towards the blacker side of metal. The drums and bass really stand out here, carrying the song into the chorus where Marios drags melody into the excellent chorus. They also manage to squeeze in a wicked little solo that smoothly transitions back into a hard hitting riff.
Desensitized switches things up a bit, starting with a quick lead and drum beat before fading into a melodic guitar and chugging bass. It all builds back up into a fiery chorus. The second go round sees the song fade into a morose but beautiful melody before hitting you with a brilliant solo.
God Forbid has a darker tone overall but within a serious amount of groove. A real headbanger of a track. You can’t possibly sit still listening to the supreme riffs on offer. The other two singles follow God Forbid with By Darkness Drawn first before The Damned follows. Two more amazing songs you can read more on at the links above.
The 8th track is called Arm Aim Kill and goes for a slower, more melodic verse. The vocals still spit fire but over a more melodic guitar. I like the reversal here. It keeps the album fresh, switching to a softer verse and heavier chorus and away from the standard heavy verse, melodic chorus you might expect. Ronnie hits some serious notes on his screams in the chorus too. Gemini is another bass led corker with serious Richter scale force through the verses. The chorus keeps the heaviness up before it chills into a beautiful harmonic solo and then back up into the heaviness again.
Disconnecting the Dots freshens things up again with a gentle melodic guitar intro. When the beat drops, it brings a thick, bass heavy groove with stomping drums and fiery vocals. The penultimate song is called Escape Route Insertion and gives us another blast of blazing guitars and thunderous drums in the build up. The vocals sound brutal with extra backing vocals adding additional depth. The little stop/starts add an extra dimension to the aggression. It also has one of my favourite solos on the whole album. You have to hear this one.
Sadly the end of the album is near but we do get one more track to go out to, though it is more of an outro. Lytrosis is just under 2 melodic guitars that allow you time to reflect on the metal mastery you just got treated to before you hit that button to start the album over again.
Wolf to Man is a fantastic album showcasing the very best of melodic death metal from one of the genres most consistent bands. Venomous vocals, thunderous drums, slamming riffs and blazing solos make up the majority of the album. Switches to reflective guitar melody or periods of neck breaking groove keep the album sounding fresh all the way through. Wolf to Man sees Nightrage hit harder and heavier than I have heard for a while and with a production that suits the band perfectly. Not too raw, not too clean. Wolf to Man is faultless. It doesn’t lull for a second just hitting you with fantastic track after fantastic track on an album that will be up their fighting with a few others for the best metal album that gets released in 2019.
Wolf to Man is out now on all the usual streaming services. Head over to Despotz Records, here, to grab a physical copy in a few different bundles. Head over to Nightrage’s site, here, for some of their back catalogue and other merch. Keep up to date with Nightrage at their website, on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Check out their YouTube channel too for some of their excellent videos.
Wolf to Man by Nightrage (Despotz Records)
The Final Score - 10/10