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Nightingale: Alive Again-The Breathing Shadow Part IV

Swedish singer and multi-instrumentalist Dan Swanö (who plays the guitar upside-down) switches gears from death-metal headbanger in Edge of Sanity and Bloodbath to more well-rounded player and writer in Nightingale – a classy and tight symphonic progressive metal quartet that incorporates elements of Marillion, Fates Warning and Queensrÿche. On Alive Again: The Breathing Shadow Part IV, Nightingale's fourth album, Swanö manages to sound alternately like Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder, Creed's Scott Stapp and Ten's Gary Hughes without losing his own vocal identity, while his bandmates revel in heavy power chords, majestic keyboards and sensible drumming.

When Nightingale gets in a groove – as on the hypnotic "Falling," the epic-sounding "Into the Light" and the ethereal 11-minute-plus "Eternal" – these guys could be one of the best bands you've never heard. The guitar of Tom Nouga (actually Swanö's brother using a stage name) spirals off into melodic territories between verses on "Shadowman," while "The One" dances with orchestral arrangements and the riff on closing track "Forever and Never" leaves its mark. Drummer Tom Björn also plays in Memory Garden, and bassist Erik Oskarsson is a former member of Godsend.

This is a refreshing release that's immediately warm and accessible, even for your friends who say they don't like prog.

Track Listing
1. Recollections
2. Shadowman
3. The Glory Days
4. Falling sten
5. Into The Light
6. Eternal
7. State Of Shock
8. The One
9. Shadowland Serenade
10. Forever And Never

Added: November 28th 2006
Reviewer: Michael Popke
Related Link: The End Records
Hits: 5008
Language: english

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Nightingale: Alive Again-The Breathing Shadow Part IV
Posted by Pete Pardo, SoT Staff Writer on 2006-11-28 17:40:38
My Score:

As a late arriver to the world of multi-instrumentalist/singer/producer Dan Swano, I'm finding it hard to imagine why his least talked about band, Nightingale, is not first and foremost on the minds and ears of most symphonic prog rock fans. Alive Again-The Breathing Shadow Part IV is simply a gorgeous album from start to finish, filled with plenty of sumptuous keyboards, AOR-styled vocal layers, and crunchy progressive metal guitar work. I'm not sure why the legions of fans of groups like Marillion, Arena, Saga, Ten, Dream Theater, and Fates Warning, are not rushing out to buy the releases from this band. Or maybe they are? Well, if not, they should be. Don't be confused into thinking that Nightingale share anything in common with Swano's old band Edge of Sanity. While that band performed some groundbreaking progressive and melodic death metal, the music here is quite different. The line-up for this album is Swano on vocals, guitars, and keyboards, his brother Tom Nouga on guitars and keyboards, Erik Oskarsson on bass, and drummer Tom Bjorn. Standout tracks include the memorable "Falling" with Swano's clean vocal delivery soaring over symphonic arrangements (and featuring a wicked lead guitar solo from guest Arjen Lucasson), the majestic and lush, "Recollections", and the epic prog statement "Eternal", complete with plenty of atmospheric keyboards, sinewy guitar work, and dreamy vocals. For fans of heavier material, there's a few hard rock/AOR tinged numbers, like "Shadowman", "State of Shock", and the technical prog-metal of "Shadowland Serenade", each with symphonic keys, dense vocals, and tasty guitar work from both Swano and Nouga.

The CD booklet is adorned with some dark and mystical artwork from Matt Cira, and comes with full lyrics. If any of this sounds tempting, it's highly recommended you check out not only this release, but also I, Invisible, as well as The Closing Chronicles from Nightingale. For a more gothic touch, The Breathing Shadow is also recommended. Word is that Swano and Company will have a new Nightingale release sometime in early 2007. If that is the case, it should be a doozy.

Nightingale: Alive Again-The Breathing Shadow Part IV
Posted by Murat Batmaz, SoT Staff Writer on 2005-05-15 15:48:16
My Score:

Nightingale's Alive Again is the fourth and last album of their everlasting concept storyline. Released in random order, Alive Again is both chronologically and storywise the last album of the series that seals the end of this amazing piece of work. Dan Swano will now work on a new album that has different motives lyrically.

Nightingale is an incredible band. It started out as Dan Swano's solo project after the break-up of Unicorn and gradually began to develop with the addition of Dan's older brother, Tom Nouga, and eventually a new bassist and drummer too. The first album was completely Dan Swano, the second one was Dan and his brother, the third one showed signs of promise and the Swano brothers toured and played several gigs. And now Alive Again has turned into a completely different entity with the inclusion of bassist Erik Oskarsson (Godsend) and drummer Tom Bjorn. Erik and Dan also played in the amazing doom metal band Godsend together and they certainly have a great chemistry between them. Tom Bjorn on the other hand is simply a fantastic drummer and a well needed breath of fresh air. He plays tastefully, enters the songs with beautiful (but modest) fills and rolls. Considering that the debut Nightingale had a drum machine and the other two featured Dan Swano himself on the drums, Bjorn's addition to the band has brought a new vibe, which I really dig.

Tom Nouga is a very 80's inspired guitar player and Alive Again is the first album that gave him the opportunity to play those 70's-like riffs in a more 80's style. Excellent. Dan Swano has managed to put out four albums under this moniker, all of which are different from each other. Isn't that what prog music is about? The Closing Chronicles was a monumental CD in (dark) prog rock as was I with a more concise sound. Alive Again, on the other hand, goes for a more lively sound, more energetic, more exciting. The sound on the previous CD was a bit dry; it's a great album and I love it, but AA definitely has a more fresh tone overall. Maybe it's the hard rock vibe, maybe it's the heavier 80's sound rather than the 70's, I don't know. It's really hard to put your finger on it. The songs are still progressive all the way; Dan would never make sacrifices in that aspect. But the writing is more forthright. The choruses are more central and focal. The writing is sort of more cohesive and controlled. Maybe it's because Part IV was the first and only Nightingale album Dan Swano took a whole year to write, record, and mix.

This album displays a more carefully planned sound, both sonically and stylistically. Therefore you may think that the previous Nightingale CDs The Closing Chronicles and I were more written in free form, pushing the limits of art. AA is different. It's not meant to be a groundbreaking effort; it's not meant to start a new era in prog music. So don't expect anything over the top. But this is not a weak point. Dan and his brother apparently wanted to explore in the 80's ground a bit more this time, and they were never afraid to mention their influences, so it's all there. Alive Again is a perfect trip back to the early 80's with all the synths, proggy driven guitar tones, nicely mixed drumming, the not too ornate bass lines. A very well rounded album to say the least. Dan has expressed his wish to go for a more 70's style on the next album already.

While all the songs are good in their own way, I feel "Eternal" deserves a special mention. Over 12 minutes, this is the longest Nightingale song ever with its minimal yet deep composition. Dan absolutely entered a new path with this one hinting that his new project Second Sky is quite going to be in this vein. I look forward to that already. Excellent stuff. The slow opening "Recollections" is a pleasant surprise with Dan's tender vocals. "Shadowman" is possibly another highpoint of the CD, especially the unexpected guitar solo is mighty! Arjen Lucassen (Ayreon, Star One) has also contributed to this beautiful album with a nice guitar solo. Top notch musicianship. Dan Swano, as always, sings with invaluable emotion. His dark vocals are one of a kind. He is needless to say a brilliant musician. Few others are as gifted as he is. So the result is an album that has numerous textures. Anyone into good prog mixed with melodic hard rock will find elements that attract them to this type of music. Super!

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