Nightmare - The Dominion Gate
Regain Records
Power Metal
13 songs (65'39")
Release year: 2006
Regain Records
Reviewed by Alex

France’s Nightmare has been 20 years in the running and I never even heard about the band! Do not let this fact fool you that I know nothing about power metal. Yet, I am far from being a devoted fanatic.

Wherever Nightmare has been for all those 20 years, this album is obviously viewed by the band as the major opportunity to put their best foot forward. Do they? Almost, in the mind of this dilettante.

As people, we all know our strengths and weaknesses. Working on the project, presentation, etc. the safe approach would be to showcase only the former while hiding away the latter. More adventurous among us try and branch out. Nightmare’s power metal is obviously not about fun-fun sweet melodies, high timbre squeal singing and the pretense for heaviness by double bassing your way through the album. Good for them. Instead, their take on power metal revolves around guitar crunch, grit, manly vocals of Jo Amore and all-around high energy. Good for them, one more time. I can totally see how the band is a good opener for Blind Guardian on a tour. At the same time, however, Nightmare has an urge for epic in their music, and those episodes is where, in my opinion, they miss the mark.

I do not want to say that I am not enjoying excellent vocal harmonies on A Taste of Armageddon. They are wonderful, the chorus is infectious and female vocals by Floor Jensen (After Forever) add a wrinkle. But I am having trouble to sit through a 7 min drag of the title track which is pretentiously “big” and fails to captivate. I’d much rather be exposed to the forward vigor of the opener Temple of Tears, undemanding track to get the listener in the mood, dark crunch of Haunting Memories, The Watchtower (with background death grunts by Sander Gommans, also from After Forever) and supermelodic, yet not over the top, K-141 (the song is devoted to the submariners with the heroic chorus fighting the keyboards’ icy Arctic water). Leave the epic stuff to Kamelot, especially if you don’t have Sacha Paeth to do your orchestral arrangements.

The riffing on The Dominion Gate is what draws me in, specifically the aforementioned The Watchtower (its bouncy character reminiscent of Rob Rock’s Eyes of Eternity) and Haunting Memories. On the other hand, there are songs on the album when the band introduces a cool riff, and thereafter fails to develop the particular song, leaving the unfinished half-baked feeling. Circle of the Dark could have been a huge hit, if not for some letdowns through the middle of the song. Secret Rules, the song about the Italian mafia, sets up a very intriguing concept, with the prospective mafioso swearing in Italian at the beginning, but again does not reach the climax or conclusion. With the heavy crunchy guitar tone Nightmare has, I feel a lot more could have been done, almost every song converted into a sharp-pointed attack. Instead, the band sometimes goes off in the direction of guitar solos which tend to be a bit self-indulgent, serving less the song character, but showcasing the musicians’ skills.

Vocals of Jo Amore is the type I like in power metal, there is no hint of singing one register too high, but all the necessary notes are taken in a soaring fashion. He is very masculine in his delivery, reminding me a bit of Urban Breed (Tad Morose), one of my personal favorites.

My criticisms aside, Nightmare is obviously a very able band, and their US debut is quite welcome. I just happen to be representing the crowd which overdosed on power metal 7-10 years ago, and unless the outstanding gem is delivered I’d tend to be nitpicky about it. To the more devoted fan who eats and sleeps power metal The Dominion Gate might very well hit bullseye. The album would have gotten there for me if it had more memorable songs, as I am having trouble to name many “killing” ones in here.

Killing Songs :
A Taste of Armageddon, The Watchtower, K-141
Alex quoted 68 / 100
Other albums by Nightmare that we have reviewed:
Nightmare - The Aftermath reviewed by Joel and quoted 84 / 100
Nightmare - Genetic Disorder reviewed by Crims and quoted 79 / 100
Nightmare - Silent Room reviewed by Aleksie and quoted 49 / 100
Nightmare - Cosmovision reviewed by Chris and quoted 83 / 100
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