Find the strength within
Review of our new single by Tasha Brown
Much like a red headed step sister, we don’t talk about 2020 as it brought its fair share of misery upon us. However, 2020 also marked the end of alt-rock outfit Nightblade’s hiatus with the release of current album ‘Ignorance Is Bliss’. From that record, the Midlanders have dropped soulful new single ‘Find The Strength Within’ along with a video featuring aerial performer Imogen Gunter.
Mark Crosby (Vocals), Sam Morse (Guitar), Tim Cutcliffe (Bass), and Rich Lawley (Drums) formed Nightblade in 2010, releasing two albums (‘Servant To Your Lair’ and ‘Closer To The Threshold’) along with an EP (‘Crisis Has No Prejudice’) before going on hiatus in 2015. With renewed energy, the quartet have come back stronger than ever.
‘Find The Strength Within’ chronicles weathering the storm of low periods and needing to find the strength within yourself to navigate your way through to the other side. The song itself is a deliciously slow burn, opening with a trickling guitar with a small thunder clap of drums. Morse’s guitar solo in the intro is deliberate and sweet in its resonance, using each note to pain the soundscape of already being out at sea, watching the storm close in.
Crosby’s low tone makes his vocals sound desolate, to the point of being so devoid of hope it becomes hard to carry on. Until the song reaches a crucial point in its sentiment ‘When you’re facing such a wall/ Will you rise or fall’, ‘Find The Strength Within’ sounds as though it’s going to stay in this sorrowful spiral, taking the ill-advised direction at the crossroads. Crashing drums from Lawley transform the single from coursing river to immense tidal wave of emotion. Each motion throughout the song from introduction, to chorus, and continuing is marked with short, succinct guitar solos from Morse, until his string work becomes a vessel to guide you to the song’s highest plane in the closing instrumental. Nightblade washes you up on the shore and slowly fades away, leaving you with the realisation you’ve navigated ‘through the wave of despair’ and can finally live free.
‘Find The Strength Within’ showcases Nightblade’s resurgence and how their passion for music has been reignited. With a rich, soulful sound akin to Sevendust or Shinedown, it’s hard to deny these alt-rockers have the power to move you.
‘Find The Strength Within’ is available now across all streaming platforms alongside current album ‘Ignorance Is Bliss’.
Ignorance Is Bliss
Nightblade – Ignorance Is Bliss – Released 4/12/20
By Diane Davies | Reviews
I have a wide choice of albums to review each month and tend to pick those that stand out a little. So I decided to check out Nightblade’s latest, purely after listening to the first track and thinking this is worthy of a write up. I thought my research of the band would lead me to foreign parts, as their sound appeared to be of European descent. They certainly looked like metal warriors of Viking origin. So what a surprise to learn, not only are they a local band to me, but I must have seen them supporting Snakecharmer in Kidderminster Town Hall about 5 years ago. Apologies Nightblade, the title didn’t register, however I do remember being there. I blame old age and too much apple juice! Of course not long after that gig, the band started a 4 year hiatus, breaking up in 2016 to pursue other projects. Now back with a vengeance and a third album, which the critics have already been praising, it’s time to re-discover these guys.
The strident tones of the title track, herald an intro that sounds like a war party on the march. Mark Crosby has a very distinctive and unique voice, in fact the whole concept of this song, makes you sit up and take notice straight away. You are put in an uneasy but invigorating, almost enrapturing sense of something different. ’Steering The Wheel’ has a simple low repetitive riff, it’s rock-a-billy with an industrial attitude. The guitar steps in to break down and enrich it with twang and even shredding towards the end and Mark assists with his pure and balanced style. The first single off the album ‘Only You’ has featured on some major radio stations, such is the effect Nightblade are having on those who hear them. It has a rigid bass line to give it a rock solid foundation and soothing vocals that also stretch Mark to the limit. Very commercial sounding, it bounces and collides in an easy going and carefree manner, very adhesive.
’Never Take For Granted’ is a different kettle of fish from its predecessor, diving into gentle waves with melancholy, it only comes up for air mid way, when it breaks with the soft hammering of guitar. Complex and meaningful, you are taken on a drifting raft, into the unknown, a truly seductive song. Again, the mood changes dramatically with the next track ‘What If’. After the engine revving intro there is a pile of majestic bass from Tim Cutcliffe and more distant vocals are mantra like in delivery. Alternative rock with a continuous flow, Nightblade have something quite original here. ‘Further From The Truth’ is more rapid, angry and unsettling at times but having a fantastic rhythm. Which is what I like about this band, the uneasy and often unbalanced, awkward vibes that go against the grain, but at the same time are melodic and entrancing. ‘Take Me As I Am’ is a strumming delight, with lower tones and could almost be classed as a love song. Melody and gutsy guitar fusing it all together, what more could you ask for ?
Eighth track ‘Immune To It All’ has a guitar intro that chimes like a peal of bells, it’s so clear. The thundering drums from Rich Lawley add a steady rhythm, his playing has been on the nail all through the album, to be honest. Quite a raunchy little rocker, it throbs with energy right up to the end and the amazing guitar work from Sam Morse appears effortless. The penultimate song is ‘Find The Strength Within’ a meaningful piece, it grows into a bit of an epic, but holds on to the subject matter without breaking into a sweat. Final song is entitled ’Stop’ and is a little gem. It’s a decent upbeat rocker with a dirty riff and hot rod pace. The production comes through true on this as well, all down to the guys at The Old Smithy Studios in Kempsey, Worcester.
The band list and liken themselves to Shinedown and Alterbridge and I get that in some respect, but if the Smiths had been an industrial metal band, they would have sounded like Nightblade. Being from the Kidderminster and Stourbridge parts of the West Midlands, I think the influences must be a mixture of bands like The Wonder Stuff, Neds Atomic Dustbin and Diamond Head. Also playing at J.B’s Dudley and The Boars Head in Kidderminster, mixed with the waters of the Stour, has left an indelible mark on these four guys. Brewed and crafted in my neck of the woods, I am no longer blissfully ignorant of the incredible Nightblade and look forward to hearing more of their work and of course, seeing them play live somewhere next year.
Do we listen to music to relax and unwind? Yes, but not always, we also like to experience uplifting ideas, reach into the unknown, be enthralled and in awe of what we hear and for me Nightblade have achieved that. Right at the end of 2020, ‘Ignorance Is Bliss’ has swept into my top albums of the year.
‘Melody and gutsy guitar fusing it all together, what more could you ask for ?’
Ignorance Is Bliss
Review by Santiago Puyol of Metal Temple.com
NIGHTBLADE is a British Alternative Rock and Post-Grunge band. Formed in 2010, the band has released three albums so far, “Ignorance is Bliss” being their last, following 2013 “Closer to the Threshold”. With a modern sound, the band takes on cues from the 80’s and 90’s alternative scenes and expands on them. This 10-track, 55-minute collection of songs packs many lengthy and meandering compositions.
The album gets started with the title-track. Some nasty and playful riffing makes the backbone of “Ignorance is Bliss”. It is an expansive, even if a bit repetitive, opener. Although it makes for a high-energy and catchy start, it could have been a little shorter. Mark Crosby vocals are a bit reminiscent of the gnarly side of Axl Rose from the 90’s, with a dash of Anthony Kiedis conversational style.
“Steering the Wheel” comes next, a mid-tempo rocker with Post-Grunge vibes. Its driving rhythm pounds along. The song has a powerful chorus with a cynical feel that makes it stand out. In between the three- and four-minute mark, on its bridge, it falls into heavier territory, getting even darker.
A deep bassline carries over bits from “Steering the Wheel’s” main vocal line into “Only You”, making both songs flow nicely. Tim Cutcliffe’s bass appears on the forefront here. NIGHTBLADE succeed in building tension on the verses, releasing it on another powerful, emotional chorus. The songwriting is strong enough to guarantee the song does not feel overlong in spite of clocking just over six minutes.
Two lengthy tracks, over the seven-minute mark, sit in the middle of the record. A strong one-two punch that make for the best section on the album. “Never Take For Granted” comes first, with its beautiful clean guitar intro. Crosby’s vocals evoke a mournful and heartfelt Mikael Åkerfeldt here. Some noisy guitar bits add a nice texture. A sprawling ballad with emotional soloing that fully explodes into the last minute, with noisier distortion and pounding bass, while Rich Lawley lets loose on his drum kit. Then comes “What If”, opening with some weird, almost random samples (a car, broken glass, water, etc.). A funky yet slightly menacing bassline courtesy of Cutcliffe anchors the track. Some RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS and even PRIMUS vibes appear here. It is a dark, memorable song, easy to listen despite its length.
NIGHTBLADE follow the intense middle point of the album with three simpler, less memorable tracks, that still manage to be quite effective. “Further from the Truth” has some 80’s Glam touches and really tight playing from the whole band. “Take Me As I Am” is a bit repetitive and returns to the Post-Grunge sound. “Immune to It All” has a nice groove and rich textured sound.
“Find the Strength Within” follows a similar pattern to “Never Take For Granted”, returning to the combo of vulnerable vocals and echoey guitars. There are even touches of piano this time around. A great change of pace for the album and palate cleanser before “Stop”, a fun rocker that ends the album with high energy.
“Ignorance is Bliss” is a solid and fun record, with some memorable tracks, emotional moments and splendid musicianship.
Nightblade: The story so far.…
The nucleus of Nightblade was formed in 2010, consisting of Mark Crosby, Dave Parish and Bill Fitzsimmons. After a stuttering start with various drummers, Richard Jones was finally chosen.
The debut album “Servant To Your Lair” was released in 2011 and Nightblade’s first tour soon followed. With the help of the mandatory article in the ubiquitous and highly regarded Metal Hammer magazine, the album attracted a lot of interest.
Whilst 2011-12 was mainly spent touring the UK, the band began work on their follow-up album “Closer To The Threshold”.
This much-anticipated album was released in 2013, with Richard Jones being replaced by Rich Lawley on drums.
The album was very well received both in the UK and internationally, scoring an average of 8 or 9 out of ten. Powerplay magazine described the album as “excellent” and were “just short of awarding it the full set of stars.”
It got the same reaction and score in Japan’s largest rock magazine Burn.
The album led to an extensive tour, including gigs at the legendary 100 Club in Camden, and at the O2 where coincidentally the Black Sabbath reunion gig was taking place right next door. Nightblade were delighted to be able to hear the Sabbath soundcheck whilst in the process of carrying out their own.
Next up in 2015 was the launch of the “Crisis Has No Prejudice” EP. It proved to be very popular, getting lots of airplay, and with the title track receiving great recognition and reviews, it again received an average score of 8-9 out of ten.
Numerous high-profile gigs followed which saw Nightblade taking to the stage with highly regarded international acts such as Snakecharmer, Wolfsbane and Diamond Head.
With a reputation for consistently producing a solid blend of exciting and attacking rock music, Nightblade have attracted fans worldwide, particularly in Germany, Japan, Scandinavia and Europe in general.
Nightblade: The next steps.…
Now with a settled, not to mention formidable line up of Mark Crosby on vocals, Sam Morse on Guitars, Tim Cutcliffe on Bass, backed up by Rich Lawley on Drums and keyboards, Nightblade’s combined creativity is a force to be reckoned with, producing fresh, innovative, inspiring and poignant material at a startling pace. Their new album “Ignorance Is Bliss” heralds a venture towards an alternative rock sound which is really quite remarkable, delivering powerful melodies, anthemic choruses and instantly infectious hooks.
Brimming with enthusiasm for this new direction, Nightblade are going for the jugular with “Ignorance Is Bliss”!
“New single Only You by Nightblade.
Nightblade have really made it with this song, a piece of driving rock that will hook you straight away.
This sounds like an instant hit single that should be heard loud in any arena venue.
With songs like this, that could be where Nightblade are heading!”
Steve Göldby, Metal Talk