Want some vanilla sauce on your beef tartare?
What a difficult review to write, really. Definitely one of the harder ones to be written by yours truly, but damn, I just cannot get past the fact that there are two perfectly solid, yet strangely conflicting sides to the story of Before the Nightingale Sings and instead of finding a way to transform these into a worthwhile collection of songs, the band throw their opposing recipes into a blender and the result turns into a squishy turd being flushed down a third-world country village sewer.
Maybe that sounds a bit harsh but hell, how can you NOT hear this? How can a band with obvious talents, having put a ton of work into their new record, end up ruining their product like they do it here? A case of temporary hearing loss? Pressure of time? I have no idea.
From now on, I’m gonna call the instrumental side of this album SIDE A and the singer’s effort SIDE B because these two are predominantly unrelated entities!
See, the members of Sarpedon are clearly adept in the usage of their individual instruments and looking at SIDE A as a single entity, there is not much to complain about if you are a fan of rhythm-guitar-heavy progressive metal that’s packing some punch. There’s also a fair amount of variety to be found here, with the band never wanting to tread on a single path for too long, putting their focus on diversification. It reminds me a little of Nevermore in execution, though the compositions do sometimes suffer a little from the Opeth-syndrome, meaning that a few of the transitions from hard-to-soft-and-back sections feel a little abrupt and awkward. The production has a more modern, software-amped sound to it, but is perfectly clear and listenable.
On SIDE B, we have Göran Nyström, a vocalist with a decent range, a memorable and passionate way of expression and a suitably gruff edge to his voice. A guy whose delivery would work on plenty of heavier releases within the more traditional heavy metal realm; imagine a singer striving for a bit of a lower-register Bruce Dickinson-tone with (some) of the grit and spit found in Gravedigger’s Chris Boltendahl. Sounds good to you? It is – if heard somewhere else. Due to the contradicting elements on here, there are numerous instances where you’ll find yourself wanting him to just shut the fuck up and leave the scene and that is totally NOT fair considering the evident qualities that this man possesses.
Sadly, that is the focal point on Before the Nightingale Sings; I’m not an expert in music theory and I never claimed to be one, but it feels as if they sent Nyström the drum-tracks only to get a feel for the rhythm, but forgot to tell him about tiny essentials such as the keys the songs were written in; so the man sang his lines and harmonies over a couple of scrapped or plain wrong guitar stem tracks instead and somebody decided to be OK with that. It’s like recording some awesome riffage with a massively detuned guitar – it will sound like shit, no matter how well played it is – yet apparently everyone in the band thought that a car equipped with a diesel engine would run fine on gasoline, or placing a beer bottle in direct sunlight on a hot summer day would be beneficial for the taste…
Guys, there’s a lot of potential in your band and there’s sincere hope that you will learn from this and get rid of such massive blackouts next time, just listen to the opener “Spiritual War” again and again – using the worst offender as the album opener is either a bold move or a sick joke – and ask yourself: ”Is this really our band’s representative showpiece that we want to be measured upon?”
For the readers, if you want a smidge of modern progressive metal, listen to “The Creeping Chaos” and “The Enemy” for presentable samples of Sarpedon‘s music – these two are harmed the least by the previously mentioned pitfalls. Avoid the rest.