By Dr. Abner Mality

Getting its start in 1979, NIGHTMARE is one of France's oldest and most durable metal bands. During all this time, they've been active and growing and I've got a ton of respect for their perseverance. 2020 sees the band releasing what they claim is their most ambitious album so far, "Aeternam".

Several years ago, NIGHTMARE lost their founding members the Amore Brothers, Jo and David. A lot of the band's individuality went with them. Singer Jo had a voice that was unique for NIGHTMARE's fast power metal style, sounding like a power metal version of Dee Snider. His vocals gave the act a unique sound. Since then, they've tried to go the diva route by enlisting female singers. First they tried Maggie Luyten, but "Aeternam" sees them switching to latest singer Maddie. Maddie's voice is not bad at all, but is very, very typical for female Gothic and power metal singers. There's nothing special to her approach or tone, which is pleasing, but nothing more.

NIGHTMARE have never been afraid to bring speed and power into their music and "Aeternam" is no different. Many tracks are that kind of power metal that borders on thrash, with chunky, chugging parts and high velocity drums. Again, it sounds way too "typical" and the sound is very, very similar to that favored by many Euro power metal bands. I give NIGHTMARE a lot of credit for sounding so up to date, especially for a band that goes back to 1979, but there is something missing on "Aeternam" that could shift this to a higher level. If I had to go out on a limb and pick a top track, I'd say "Lights On" has a strong mixture of heavy energy and almost neoclassical guitar.

"Aeternam" is really pretty much the same as the last few NIGHTMARE albums, so if you like those, this should please. But they are not going to get that elusive brass ring here.