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Sarpedon – Before the Nightingale Sings

Sarpedon
Before the Nightingale Sings
by Santiago Puyol at 16 October 2019, 9:47 AM

From the very first seconds on "Before the Nightingale Sings" it becomes clear that SARPEDON are offering a great mixture of complex and bombastic Progressive Metal. This Norwegian sextet delivers a dramatic, Classic Metal-tinged, barricade of angular riffing, great soloing and occasional blast beat attacks. IRON MAIDEN and JUDAS PRIEST influences seem to run deep into the core of the band, even if their sound is decidedly more modern. On this album, the band sounds extremely tight.

Intricate yet aggressive riffs set things in motion with "Spiritual War," an outstanding opener. Carl Engstrøm shows his chops behind the drum kit, providing a thrashy backbone to a song with several shifts in structure. Over the course of five minutes, Sarpedon presents their particular brand of Prog, and all the players get to shine a little at least. It is the shortest track on the album, and the most immediate in a way.

Single "The Creeping Chaos" follows next, taking the formula introduced in the first track and refining it. Its melodious clean sections feel eerily reminiscent of AEROSMITH’s "Dream On," while things get heavier, with blast beats on the pre-choruses. Bluesy vibes appear on the jam-like, instrumental breaks of the song. Jimmy Lu’s bass takes a more prominent role, providing some deep pounds and adding to the overall heaviness.

The middle section of the album employs a harsher, more abrasive sound, closer to more extreme styles of Metal. "The Enemy" and "Eye of the Storm" feature frantic drumming, almost at as a constant on the former. Still, there is some groovy syncopation amidst the chaos. Daniel Hemstad’s organ provides some needed counterpoint, while Göran Nyström’s vocals feel epic, accompanied by dramatic and layered coral arrangements.

The rest of the album is comprised of Symphonic, 1970s Prog-inspired mini-epics, with "The Maelstrom" being the clear centerpiece and the longest track at almost 10 minutes. In a way, it feels like a Metal version of a YES track. Bassist Jimmy Lu adds a funky, Chris Squire-esque groove, while Martin Langebraaten and Alekos Kourmantzis contribute with layered, spidery guitar work. Shifting time signatures and tempo changes contribute to the sense of drama. A watery synth solo around the seven minute mark puts the record full into sci-fi territory.

"The First Sun" goes on a thrashy route again, with jazzy basslines providing a peculiar sense of groove. The track features some shreddy solos, with impeccable technique, emoting several virtuosos without sacrificing the emotional sense of urgency the track requires. The last third gets back into symphonic mode with synth strings and brass, underneath melodramatic singing.

"The Nightingale" brings everything to an end in theatrical fashion, in the best sense of the word. Melodic, warm basslines, powerful vocal lines and beautiful piano playing conjure vivid images on this last epic track. It is the closest the band gets to their Classic Metal influences, and it suits them a lot.

"Before the Nightingale Sings" is a good record with interesting songwriting and proficient musicianship. Although there are no weak songs on the album, the band succeeds the most on the more expansive, longer and more Progressive tracks. The main issue I had with the album was the pacing of it. The heavier, more abrasive tracks get crammed together on the first half, while the more dramatic, less heavy if you might, are at the very end. The drumming gets a little too intrusive at points, too.

Songwriting: 8
Originality: 7
Memorability: 6
Production: 7

3 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Spiritual War
2. The Creeping Chaos
3. The Enemy
4. Eye of the Storm
5. The Maelstrom
6. The First Sun
7. The Nightingale
Lineup:
Göran Nyström – Vocals
Martin Langebraaten – Guitars
Togeir Krokfjord - Guitars
Jimmy Lu – Bass
Carl Engstrøm – Drums
Daniel Hemstad – Keyboards
Record Label: Independent
     


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Edited 21 November 2019
 

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