Nightingale has been around for over a decade now and they decided to celebrate this with a 10-year anniversary released called Nightfall Overture, simply named after the very first song on Nightingale's debut disc. This is not a best of compilation. Far from it actually. These are songs that were specially re-recorded by Dan Swano's new band, featuring his brother Tom Nouga, bassist Erik Oskarsson (also Dan's band mate from Godsend), and drummer Tom Bjorn of Memory Garden. As you might know, Nightingale started out as a one-man project in 1995, but it gradually grew and evolved into a real band as Dan began to write songs with Tom Nouga starting with the second album, The Closing Chronicles. However, since he was still heavily involved in Edge of Sanity and other bands, there was no way for Nightingale to go on a tour or play live gigs. With each passing year though, Dan began to concentrate more and more on Nightingale and basically stopped singing/playing on other projects, and a great new band was born.
Enough with the history. Dan's voice is godly. It's one of the deepest and most moving voices I've ever heard. There is no one else out there that can sing so deep and emotionally engaging. What's great is, he gets better and better with every album and hearing some of these songs after all these years is amazing. Nightfall Overture is a limited release (500 copies only), which they decided to sell on their recent tour in Germany and Holland. The album will be released internationally with bonus tracks soon. You can still get it directly from Dan, if he has any copies left. I think the new version of "Nightfall Overture" is by far better than the original one, because it has got real drums, fuzzed-out synths that add a very captivating mood to the song, beautiful layers of keyboard melodies, cutting-edge guitar work by Nouga and pounding bass. The piano in the middle is also gorgeous. I had to play this song over and over again when I first received my copy. Dan sounds absolutely amazing. The chorus is fantastic and there is something about his vocals - they simply give me goosebumps. The next song is another track off The Breathing Shadow album, opening up with an impressive synth solo followed by a sublime piano run. It is amazing how much a song can change with real instrumentation (the original version of The Breathing Shadow was written, recorded and mixed in 7 days only) and enhanced production techniques. The song also sounds more like a melodic rock piece with soaring guitar solos, but in the second half things become more adventurous as Bjorn's drums and the intricate instrumentation suggest a more progressive route. Amazing stuff.
"Revival" and "Steal the Moon", both songs from quite possibly the darkest and most emotional Nightingale album The Closing Chronicles, are both played true to their original formats. But, as all other songs, they have a more live vibe to them, and Dan sings in a slightly more aggressive tone. I've always loved the beautiful ballad "Steal the Moon" for its arrangement. This time there are awesome acoustic guitars and back vocals on it too. "Alonely" is actually a song Tom Nouga wrote back in 1982 with Swedish lyrics, but somehow the track ended up on Nightingale's I years later, with a more hard rock solo. This is an acoustic ballad where Dan's voice will haunt anybody. Again, his delivery is more aggressive in parts and it fits the flow perfectly. The Alive Again songs "The Glory Days" and "Shadowland Serenade" are going to impress AOR fans who also enjoy a certain dose of prog rock. The back vocals on the former are really great and Nouga's bluesy solo on the latter differs quite a bit from the earlier version. It's littered with time changes and that allows the dynamics to further enhance the piece. The album closes with two new tracks. "Losing Myself" an Edge of Sanity cover, played and sung in a Nightingale style. Judging by the laughter at the end of the track, it's easy to tell the band had a great time recording it. Also, we are offered a brand new Nightingale track called "Better Safe Than Sorry", a song that has a very big chorus, awesome synths and Dan again impresses with his voice.
Highly recommended to any prog rock, melodic rock and AOR fan who wants to discover a singer who's out of this world. Dan Swano is by far one of the most prolific and amazing artists of the 90's. Not only is he the first man who recorded and produced like 80% of all underground Swedish bands (including Opeth, Katatonia, and a million others), but he has also always noted that he is a proghead in the first place. His first band Unicorn to this day remains as an untouchable prog rock monument. Check both of their albums out as well as the demos. Dan was only 16 when he recorded them, but those discs certainly hinted at his genius. As mentioned in Opeth's Orchid and Morningrise booklets, he is and always will be their "guide", and rightly so.
- Nightfall Overture
- The Dreamreader
- Steal the Moon
- I Return
- The Glory Days
- Shadowland Serenade
- Losing Myself
- Better Safe Than Sorry