3.5 out of 5 Stars!
Despite this Belgium band having a name way too similar to Nightwish, and including a female singer to boot, Nightqueen’s parallel’s to Finland’s Nightwish are limited to only a few areas. Although some of the songs (such the two-part opener “Into the Night/Nightfall”) and the overall orchestrations when it comes to the often bombastic and symphonic keyboards could have come right out of the Nightwish catalogue, the singer (Laura Asikainen) is completely different and the band’s style is more straightforward. There’s not a shred of operatic vocals, but Asikainen has a deeper, somewhat gruff (yet melodic) approach and vocal range, similar to the singers of Benedictum, Virus IV, or Beautiful Sin. Additionally, there are (thankfully) no over-the-top “Beauty & The Beast” pretty female/growling male vocals to spoil things like most female-led bands with related styles. Unlike what one reviewer at a music-review website once said, I noticed no out-of-key vocals. Sure, Asikainen doesn’t have the most beautiful voice–as I mentioned, she sings in a lower register and has a dirtier/grittier sound, a more “Metal” approach–but she certainly does sing on key.
As far as the music itself, tracks such as “Majesty,” “Screaming for Mercy,” “Mystical Night,” “Rebel to Rebel,” and “Dark Fairy” lean toward Power Metal with a hint of Progressive Metal. Not bad overall. On a few songs, I felt the melodies could have used some extra work, but generally the band is solid enough, and the instrumentation is above average compared to many bands playing this form of music, with fierce riffs, shred guitar, and a solid rhythm section throughout. I do have one quibble, however, regarding the overall mix—yes, the sound is full and grandiose, as I expected from a band of this nature, yet occasionally it tends to be a bit too dense, where it’s difficult to actually distinguish the rhythm section through the musical fog of guitars and multi-layered keyboards.
Anyway, when it comes to Nightqueen, the potential is evident, and hopefully the band will continue to develop its sound and style. Although I recently picked up a copy of the group’s sophomore effort (2014’s rEvolution), I have yet to find a chance to actually sit down with it to see whether there’s any noticeable growth. Regardless, it’s too bad about the band’s name, since it will likely pigeonhole Nightqueen, with many fans of the genre assuming the band to be nothing more than a direct Nightwish clone, which is certainly not the case.