Nightqueen – For Queen And Metal
Just a few weeks ago I meditated on the scarcity of Belgian power metal bands while reviewing Iron Mask’s Black As Death, and as if to taunt me, another act promptly came to prominence. Nightqueen they are called, and in the last few months they have signed a deal with Massacre Records and made their way onto a festival bill also including such greats as Rhapsody Of Fire and Blind Guardian. Not too shabby for a symphonic power metal act in a country where such things are generally hissed and spat at from dark black metal corners.
Nightqueen didn’t just do all of this overnight, whatever their nocturnal name might suggest, and they have been hard at work ever since 2004, releasing an EP, Inauguration, two years ago. In February their first full-length For Queen And Metal will at last see the light of day, or rather light of night, or maybe night of day. Take a pick.
The sextet from Limburg plays a form of symphonic power metal with shades of both Ancient Bards and Battle Beast. Overall the album gives of a stately and mystical vibe, transporting the listener to the dark of the woods past sunset to take part in strange rites and ceremonial chanting. Songs like the plucky “Nightfall”, ritualistic “Mystical Nights” and sweeping “Nocturnal Thoughts” certainly do nothing to disprove that theory. During the second half of the album the battle spirits take center stage and I hear echoes of Hammerfall in the spirited “Rebel To Rebel” and fierce “Screaming For Mercy”.
Despite the lyrical variety and reasonable memorability of the individual tracks, Nightqueen’s steadfast sound risks getting stale in the long run and the band would benefit of letting their hair down a little and mixing things up. Luckily, the musicianship is excellent, with some tasty keyboard work (see for example “Lady Fantasy”) and flashy guitar solos. Singer Keely Larreina holds her own and sounds admirably professional, even though her voice may at times be a little too expressive or heavily accented.
The existence of For Queen And Metal alone is worthy of an accolade, and I’m glad to see the band attracting the attention of an international label to score some points outside these taste-depraved lands. With ample room for growth and improvement, Nightqueen could one day be a force to be reckoned with in the female fronted (power) metal scene, but for now their debut will do.
Arno Callens’ Rating: 3.5 out of 5