ReviewsNightmare – Encrypted (AFM Records)

Nightmare – Encrypted (AFM Records)

The constant flux of key member changes can often derail forward momentum for artists – but it is an inevitable aspect to navigate within the current modern music industry. Be it personal problems, successfully paying the bills through your creative artistry, or a multitude of other circumstances, it’s interesting to see (and hear) what comes next when these situations occur. French heavy/power metal veterans Nightmare face this situation again heading into their 12th studio record Encrypted – replacing another singer in 2022 between albums as Madie departs while latest vocalist Barbara Mogre enters the fold. As such, listeners can expect a key stepping stone effort that contains some modern extreme nuances that along with the catchy riffs and melodic mainstay musical components could garner attention from a younger audience.

Barbara as a singer possesses that triple threat delivery in terms of confident melodic / power metal pipes as well as deeper, death/blackened growls to screams that keeps the songs diverse as well as edge of your seat in terms of not knowing what will show up next. Main guitarists / songwriters Franck Milleliri and Matt Asselberghs showcase an eclectic mixture of riffs, influences, and techniques that run across the power, traditional to melodic death/modern staccato spectrum – pulling as easily from Arch Enemy to Nevermore as they do Firewind, Mystic Prophecy, or Primal Fear when it comes to arrangements, verse to chorus into lead break compositions. Hair whirlwind momentum fuels the crunchy to smooth riffs and melodies of “Saviours of the Damned” – the additional keyboard orchestration and full choir vocal parts provide extra earworm elements that cement further appeal, while “Incandescent” contains all those energetic passages, call to arms hooks, plus clean / extreme angles to be a thunderous highlight. Choosing to continue their relationship with Simone Mularoni (this time in the producer’s seat) allows the band to put full focus into a sound that is vibrant and propulsive – with engaging jaw-dropping lead work (check out “Borderlines” for this point), potent bass/drum rhythm section delivery and Barbara’s obvious professional abilities as a metal singer bringing everything home.

Could Encrypted be a gateway record for Nightmare in 2024 to signal a stronger following, especially in the teenage to twenty-something marketplace? Once again, these musicians have adjusted well to another significant vocalist shift which allows them to expand their sound into newer horizons without forsaking the traditional heavy/power metal aspects that carried them in the past. As good as Aeternam is, this record pushes the variance level to heights previously unachieved, and that benefits all followers in the long run.

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8.5 / 10