Album Review – Nighon / The Somme (2017)

Inspired by cinematic music and all extreme forms of metal, this up-and-coming Finnish squad presents their new concept album with stories from World War I, World War II and the crisis we see in our world today.

Greatly inspired by cinematic music and all extreme forms of metal, blending darkness with light in a unique and aggressive sound, Finnish Symphonic Shock Metal troopers Nighon are releasing their second full-length opus, entitled The Somme, a concept album with stories from World War I, World War II, the similarities between those events and the crisis we see today in our world. Sounding much more extreme than Nighon’s 2014 debut album Cor Oblivionis, The Somme is supposed to be heard in its entirety without any pauses or breaks, in order to provide the listener an in-depth, detailed view of the whole concept behind the music.

Formed in 2008 in Pietarsaari, Finland, this up-and-coming sextet not only delivers high-end music to metalheads all over the world, but they also host their own podcast called Nighon Propaganda-cast, where the idea is to provide uncensored content and a free flow of information, discussing themes such as literature, politics, several different types of music, nature and arts in general, among others. The diversity of topics found in their podcast will give you an idea of how creative the band is, and how much they’re all willing to explore new ideas and transform everything into good heavy music. Furthermore, if you’re ready to war, The Somme might be the perfect soundtrack for you to rise up, bringing a precise balance between heavy, melodic sounds and a more-than-meaningful content.

The album starts with the ominous intro Marseille 1914, narrating the tragic event that happened on June 28, 1914, when Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and his wife Sophie were shot to death by a Bosnian Serb nationalist during an official visit to the Bosnian capital of Sarajevo. The killings sparked a chain of events that led to the outbreak of World War I by early August that same year. After that history lesson, The Greatest Of Catastrophes (a blend of the outbreak of World War I and the Ukraine crisis) brings forward modern Symphonic Metal with hints of Industrial and Melodic Death Metal, exploding into a thrilling musicality led by the potent clean vocals by Alva Sandström and showcasing a great balance between mechanized sounds and more melodic, powerful lines, therefore enhancing the song’s impact. The Dirge goes straight to the point, being utterly ferocious through the growls by Nico Häggblom and the brutal riffs by Michael Mikander and Björn Johansson, not to mention how potently the bass by Mats Ödahl will hit you in the face, with Alva once again bringing  light to all darkness blasted by the rest of the band. And just as symphonic and rampant as its predecessor, Lest We Forget presents all instruments exhaling a truly metallic vibe, in special the bass lines by Mats and the nonstop beats by Mika Paananen. However, in my opinion the only problem is that the song never decides if it’s a power ballad or a traditional heavy tune, getting a bit confusing at times.

Medic works as an eerie bridge to the vicious Blow Them To Hell, an aggressive composition tailored for fans of Dimmu Borgir where Nico growls deeper than ever, while Mika continues to deliver his arsenal of blast beats, not to mention the elements from Black Metal added to the musicality which end up increasing the song’s overall darkness even more. During World War II, there was a German naval base along the Kåfjorden, which branches off the main Altafjord, another short, ominous bridge to Scharnhorst, inspired by a battleship from Nazi Germany and displaying a well-balanced fusion of modern metal music and old school Death and Black Metal. Michael, Björn and Mats make sure our necks break in half with the headbanging sounds coming from their strings, with the musicality also presenting a good amount of epicness to help the band tell the desired story during the song’s almost nine minutes.

Leaning towards traditional Melodic Death Metal with hints of Industrial Metal (which ends up giving it a more menacing aura), Reclaiming Ravenpoint presents an amazing vocal duo by Nico and Alva, with their harsh growls and clean vocals complementing each other’s performance beautifully. Even weirder than the other instrumental passages and bridges, You Do Not Know What The Night May Bring consists of a phantom voice repeating the song’s name like a mantra, before the neck-breaking chant Minor Secundus comes crushing with its amazing guitars, bass and drums. However, what seems to be pure heaviness evolves into a more melodic sonority thanks to the vocals by Alva and the song’s electrifying vibe, which only makes the whole experience of listening to such excellent tune even better.

Tragédie reminds me of some of the best songs by Lacuna Coil, being one of the fastest and most dynamic of all songs with Nico firing his hellish screams in contrast with Alva’s delicate but potent voice. This full-bodied creation by Nighon not only feels like a movie score, but Mika’s precise performance once again on drums deserves our humble appreciation. And their dark symphony of war goes on in I Fear For Tomorrow, featuring Mathias Lillmåns (Finntroll, Magenta Harvest, Chthonian), with the extremely aggressive vocal lines and heavier-than-hell riffs being the highlights of the song. Nevertheless, despite being a good composition with a decent pace, it lacks more creativity to ignite the spark inside us metalheads. Lastly, the title-track Somme, inspired by the Battle of the Somme, a battle of World War I fought by the armies of the British and French empires against the German Empire, showcases a touching beginning with the mournful sound of the bagpipes signing to the end of the conflict, morphing into a power ballad with Alva leading the music while Michael delivers the most beautiful solo of the entire album, with the music smoothly flowing into an impactful ending.

You can get more details on the music by Nighon at their Facebook page and SoundCloud, and purchase The Somme at the Inverse Records’ webstore, at Record Shop X or on Amazon. It seems that our leaders and rulers never learn the lesson, with the threat of a new war always haunting the innocent in our modern-day society, and if you want to learn a little more about the wars from the past and their outcomes, The Somme might be an interesting source of information for your studies, with the advantage of being loud, fast and heavy, of course.

Best moments of the album: The Greatest Of Catastrophes, The Dirge, Minor Secundus and Tragédie.

Worst moments of the album: Lest We Forget and I Fear For Tomorrow.

Released in 2017 Inverse Records

Track listing
1. Marseille 1914 1:24
2. The Greatest Of Catastrophes 4:01
3. The Dirge 4:43
4. Lest We Forget 5:11
5. Medic 0:52
6. Blow Them To Hell 6:03
7. Altafjord 0:44
8. Scharnhorst 8:36
9. Reclaiming Ravenpoint 5:32
10. You Do Not Know What The Night May Bring 2:09
11. Minor Secundus 4:47
12. Tragédie 4:29
13. I Fear For Tomorrow (feat. Mathias Lillmåns) 5:47
14. Somme 7:09

Band members
Nico Häggblom – harsh vocals
Alva Sandström – clean female vocals
Michael Mikander – lead guitar
Björn Johansson – guitar
Mats Ödahl – bass
Mika Paananen – drums

Guest musician
Mathias Lillmåns – additional vocals on “I Fear For Tomorrow”

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