(Underground Power 2016)
Moros Nyx derive their unusual name from two words in Greek mythology that, combined, mean “night of fate.” On their debut full-length album, this quartet from Chicago (whose ranks include current and former members of bands like Satan’s Hallow, Ancient Dreams and High Spirits) make a strong showing that the fates are on their side. These guys are obviously well-versed in the ways of traditional metal, but they’ve filtered the established tropes, guideposts and hallmarks of that genre through a love of European power/speed metal. The result is that Moros Nyx have managed to carve out their own unique patch of real estate in the cluttered, oversaturated realm of classic metal releases flooding the marketplace these days. Don’t let the reference to European power metal discourage you, for Moros Nyx have none of the cheesiness of Gloryhammer, the keyboard-laden pretentious frilliness of Rhapsody, or the over-the-top sugary sweetness of Freedom Call. Instead, this ‘Revolution Street’ album sounds a bit like what might happen if Gamma Ray were to jam with Riot V. So the music is guitar-driven, it’s fast and it’s heavy, while also being extremely melodic, with big uplifting melodies, memorable singalong choruses and lyrics about freedom and rebellion, slavery and revolution, damnation and salvation.
The result is an album that feels very fresh, but also very sincere and heartfelt. The Kai Hansen worship is definitely discernable, but it never becomes overbearing or annoying because it’s mostly manifested in little touches: a melody here, an arrangement there, a vocal line or phrasing choice. Moros Nyx are definitely not a mere copy band; to the contrary, there’s a surprising amount of diversity on this album as they endeavor to forge their own identity. Truth be told, there’s a lot of terrific material on ‘Revolution Street.’ The clear highlight is buried at track 8 in the form of “Child of the Dream,” the sole carry-over from the band’s 2014 ‘Rite of Rebellion’ demo, and it’s a firecracker. “Child of the Dream” delivers a masterful speedy guitar riff, an urgent vocal performance, a captivating melody and killer backing vocals to create power/speed metal bliss in an exhilarating four-minute package. Songs range in duration from less than two minutes (the burst of energy that is “Captured”) to nearly eight minutes (“Fear Monger” and “Revolution Street”), with an overall predilection toward longer, more epic stuff. But all the songs are well-written, catchy, and imbued with a sense of dynamics that keeps things from getting boring (check out the clean guitars near the end of “Revolution Street” for a perfect example of what I mean). The only song that doesn’t quite work is the ballad, “We Are the Damned,” a fine track that seems to demand a bit too much from vocalist MP Papai, who noticeably struggles even as his duet partner, guest vocalist Mandy Martillo (of Satan’s Hallow), shines. Overall, however, Papai does an excellent job, delivering his vocal lines with power, grit and big-time emotion that makes it easy to overlook the places where he strains or seems off by just a smidge. I’d gladly take this kind of emotive, balls-out performance with the occasional hiccup over a clinical, technically perfect but soulless rendition.
Make no mistake: ‘Revolution Street’ is one of the best debut albums I’ve heard in 2016. The infusion of European power/speed metal into the denim-and-leather true metal framework is a stroke of genius that really helps Moros Nyx stand out from the hordes of NWoTHM bands emerging from the woodwork every day. Better yet, it feels natural rather than calculated or contrived. Also, it’s incredibly exciting to think that Moros Nyx have accomplished so much on ‘Revolution Street’ despite being a young band that formed just two years ago. If they can further refine and perfect their style going forward, Moros Nyx could be a real contender for the heavy metal crown. For now, though, I’m thankful for the night of fate that brought ‘Revolution Street’ to my attention.
~ Review by Kit Ekman ~