NIGHTQUEEN is a Belgian Heavy/Power Metal band with symphonic influences. The band was formed ten years ago and has so far five releases up its sleeves: a self-titled demo from 2005, the EP “Inauguration” (2010), “X-mas Wonderland” single (2011), their debut album “For Queen And Metal” (2012) and since the 25th of April 2014: album no. 2, “rEVOLUTION”. And this new album is my acquaintance with NIGHTQUEEN, even if I’ve seen the band’s name several times on Internet.
The band also has had its share of line-up changes and even now I’m not sure of the line-up for “rEVOLUTION” or today, as the band’s Facebook page and Metal-Archives.com contradict each other. In the press text and on the band’s Facebook page, there’s no mention of, for example, who played the drums on the new album. So I went with what Metal-Archives.com mentions.
“rEVOLUTION” contains nine tracks and a playtime of about 50 minutes. Beginning with “The Hunter” and its promising guitar work in the first seconds. The rest of the instruments come bursting in and together they create a whole of pounding, epic melodic Power Metal where keyboards play a vital role to counter the power of guitars and drums. The verses are midtempo galloping, with Keely’s powerful clean vocals. The music grows in volume while passing over the bridge and into the melodic, hymnic chorus. Keyboards (in organ version) claim dominance in this part. Near the end the band opted for a bombastic piece with horns. But why is the track cut off too soon? It has no proper end in this way.
“Love After Life” follows swiftly. Starting with symphonic elements, then kicking into straight-forward midtempo rocking. The verses are clean, so are the vocals. Keely sings a bit lower here, to be inline with overall feel. Power mode is activated as the chorus comes into view. Once there, again the contrast between keyboards and the combo guitars-drums cannot be denied. The vocals follow suit. “The Hunter” was a highlight, and so is “Revolution”. This one begins with the piano and sounds of a mass of people (warriors? knights? protesters?). A cinematic speech is added to create the right setting and atmosphere. Hymnic, midtempo Metal follows, shifts into uptempo rocking mode while keyboards provide melodic backing. The (slower) chorus is comparable to e.g. SABATON’s work. The expected guitar solo is rather short. A little too short maybe?
Sadly the band then chose to slow down. First with “Rain Of Blood And Fear”. Its atmospheric intro is accompanied by some sort of distortion, which probably represents the rain in the title. Symphonic elements, marching drums, the bass going along… all this opens up into a slow, hymnic chorus. The singing sounds a bit hoarse, I’d say, as if Keely has reached her vocal limits. The guitar leads are very welcome, as without this it would sound awkward. Still, all things considered, this is not among the best or even better songs on the album. I don’t want to call it boring, but it’s a close call. The other song that drags the album down is “Beyond The Gates Of Heaven”. Is this a ballad? The intro sure creates that impression. When the music does break loose, it’s indeed in power ballad style. after that all falls silent again to let the piano and vocals reclaim the spotlights. Gradually the music advances towards the chorus, which is catchy, but the vocals are the weak link here, and mainly because of her timbre. It’s too limited here. The distorted production isn’t very helpful either. And now for details: why is the drummer adding extra hits near the end? The guitar work is good, though.
Still, two slow songs in a row is not a good decision. The band should have increased the power again at this point. They fortunately did in “Scream In The Night”. First an atmospheric intro with a choir, the music fading… and breaking out into uptempo, melodic Power Metal! Yes! A bit late, but finally! Think bands like HELLOWEEN, GAMMA RAY, FREEDOM CALL, etc. Halfway there’s a nice twist before the obligatory solo moment. “Demoncracy” has a marching army entering the album, followed by dark, midtempo Metal. The keyboards provide backing with trumpets and symphonic assistance. The tempo goes up in the chorus. However, the production makes it hard to sit through it all, even if the music in itself is good. The solo is set over halfway, and is well done.
“The Watcher” is a bombastic, pounding Metal song with firm, straight-forward verses. Halfway the bombast and darkness make their entrance, paving the way for the solo. Another fairly good song. Last but not least is “Queen Of The Night”, the longest song on the album (over 10 minutes). An orchestral intro, a creaking door, an organ… like it was taken from a horror film. But why does it sound so basic? The mystery and darkness are pushed back by the unleashed power of Metal, in vein of EDGUY, FREEDOM CALL, and so on. Over halfway the tempo decreases and the music shifts into a cleaner mode, flowing towards the solo part. The Power Metal awaits its return eagerly, although the transition is rather strange, a bit too abrupt, perhaps?
NIGHTQUEEN has a new album out: “rEVOLUTION”. Symphonic Heavy/Power Metal from Belgium. And Belgium doesn’t have that many bands in this genre. So, in this respect, it’s good to have NIGHTQUEEN. However, this new release is, on a whole, not that good. It could have been a very good EP (also when considering a remixing/remastering), though. The band proudly mention they worked with, and I quote, “Jan Nemec (who worked with MSG, ULI JOHN ROTH, CELTIC FROST, RUNNNG WILD, THE SCORPIONS, FARGO , VICTORY, GRAVE DIGGER, ELOY, ERUPTION, ZED YAGO, ZENO, STEELER, HELLOWEEN, …). The final result of ‘rEVOLUTION’ stands for top quality.” Then why is there an annoying distortion on the album? Fans of the band wil probably look over this rather important detail and buy the album anyway. Perhaps this is another one of those releases of which the songs come out better on stage, something I can’t confirm (yet?).
- The Hunter
- Love After Life
- Rain Of Blood And Fear
- Beyond The Gates Of Heaven
- Scream In The Night
- The Watcher
- Queen Of The Night
Keely Larreina – vocals
Rex Zeco – guitar
Neil Gray – guitar
Ed Scarlatti – keyboards
Steven Steele – bass
Rick Valcon – drums