Descent into Chaos

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With a misleading title to say the least, Nightrage's second album, Descent into Chaos, finds the Greco-Swedish death metal outfit delivering a highly controlled -- if very diverse -- breadth of material. Though for the most part rooted in the classic melodic death metal perfected by Swedish greats In Flames, Dark Tranquillity, and vocalist Thomas Lindberg's own seminal former band, At the Gates (see "Phantasma," "Jubilant Cry," "Reality vs. Truth," etc.), Nightrage also dabble in neo-thrash velocity ("Being Nothing," "Omen") of the sort espoused by the Haunted or the Crown (also briefly featuring Lindberg), as well as semi-vintage, midpaced metal styles ("Poems," "Silent Solitude") championed by some of Greek guitarists Gus G. and Marios Iliopoulos' other band exploits. These of course included power metal -- a format no one would expect Lindberg to ever touch, but which remarkably lends a few minute traces of hyper-melody and fleet-fingered guitar solos to some of these tracks, most notable among them being the surprisingly accessible "Frozen," which takes these nuances a step further by adding a quasi-operatic chorus section behind Lindberg's reliably livid screaming. Then again, he makes himself scarce when it comes to the metallic ballad "Solus," preferring to let it be an instrumental rather than risk involvement. Anyway, the sum of all these sonic components, not to mention these veteran musicians' various contributions from their respective areas of expertise, is a stellar and eclectic death metal album, one that might have come off as unfocused were it not for Nightrage's side-project status and overriding songwriting prowess. This is, of course, reason enough to give Descent into Chaos a spin, but Lindberg loyalists should also be curious to hear him tackling some of the most commercially conscious material of his career.

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