THE NIGHT FLIGHT ORCHESTRA – Amber Galactic

Since I have already written two Night Flight Orchestra reviews, an introduction of that band is really unnecessary here, but what I can say is that supergroups has a tendency to last not very long. Egos and musical differences usually rears their ugly heads after a while and even if they do last, dips in quality aren’t that uncommon. When Night Flight Orchestra released their debut album Internal Affairs in 2012, the outcome – style wise – was probably a big surprise to many. All the members of the band’s day jobs are in the heavier and more aggressive side of hard rock and as we all know now, NFO are a band that have its roots in 70’s pop, rock and even disco and funk. But no one knew if this project would be only a one album affair or if it would turn into a proper band. The album – I only gave it 9/10 in my review but it is one of the most obvious 10/10’s I have ever run into – rocked my world since day one so when the news got out that they would come back for a second round, it made me a very happy camper. The second album – Skyline Whispers – wasn’t as direct as the debut but since I couldn’t find even one second on that album that wasn’t great, anything else than a 10/10 was impossible. When we write 2017 in our calendars, TNFO are a proper band and just as important as the guys’ ordinary bands and a third effort is now released. So how do you top, or even equal, two albums that are both 10’s then? Well, that is more or less an impossible task so even if I don’t expect that, I still have very high expectations on this record. I’m not overly worried about a quality failure from these guys but then again, you never know. You never know.

So “Midnight Flyer” takes off and invites us to a journey of classic rock with a major pop vibe and even pomp. It comes in a faster pace and the sound scape is a bit rougher than we’re used to, especially Björn Strid’s vocals. There’s a big, fat 70’s smelling keyboard sound in the solo and the melodies are majestic – and the whole piece is catchy as Hell. Just the start I had wished for – and expected. “Star Of Rio” comes with a big ass groove and swings like crazy. The steady beat and rocking rhythms draws parallels to a mix of early Kiss and 70’s Rolling Stones. There’s also a backup singer involved and a piano – very dynamic. The big pop feels makes it catchy as can be. The spacey “Gemini” is a hybrid of melodic hard rock, pop and a disco vibe – I can almost feel the lights of the discotheque ball in the back of my head. The whole tune is so damn catchy and if you can sit still to this one, there’s something wrong with you. I’m sure this could get some fair amount of airplay if any radio station had the guts to play it.

“Sad State Of Affairs” kicks off with some early Kiss influences in both the riffs and song structure and classic rock vibe is all over the place and the pop swagger creates some insane catchiness. It’s pretty raw and aggressive but still with the true NFO style – awesome! “Jennie” brings out a major Supertramp influence and even though I have never been into that band, it doesn’t make the song less great. Maybe because the early 80’s AOR influence – Journey, Boston, Queen, they all show up – and the addictive rhythm makes the whole thing a melodic monster. The song comes in a mid pace and is so catchy it’s ridiculous. The pop feel in “Domino” is striking, the disco-like groove is brutally kicking and the melodies, both in verse and chorus, sticks like glue.The arrangement makes me think of the soundtracks of old American Dicks shows like Baretta or Kojak or Shaft with classic rock in it – I think it’s damn brilliant! “Josephine” (seems like there’s a lot of women in the NFO circles…) is very AOR strong, the way it sounded in the early 80’s, but it’s still full of classic rock and pop 70’s style. The steady beat and the grandiose groove makes it very danceable and again, it’s impossible to stand still to this one.

“Space Whisperer” is easily the heaviest song on the album – maybe their heaviest song to date – but the metal riffing is mixed some classic 70’s hard rock but it doesn’t mean that they have given in on the striking and melodic melodies and there’s also a big pop feel all over the song. And nobody does it better than NFO! “Something Mysterious” comes in a slower tempo – it’s in ballad territory but not quite. It has a brilliant pop arrangement and the groove is spot-on, very immediate. The cranking hard rock guitar solo makes a really cool contrast to the otherwise AOR-ish feel of the song. The album closes – if you don’t get the deluxe edition – with “Saturn In Velvet”, a pomp rocker with a disco groove over a classic rock foundation. It’s an epic track, seven minutes long and parts of it got a pretty clear ABBA vibe. A bombastic tune. The deluxe edition gives you another track to digest, “Just Another Night”. The tune is kinda “out there” as it sounds like 80’s pop with a vintage soul vibe with only an ounce of classic rock and there’s also a saxophone solo for good measure. It still holds a major swing and a melody so catchy it’s lethal. The song is so good that I’d recommend the deluxe edition to everyone.

So after all is said and done, we sit here with another musical KO from this superb band and of course, to not go full monty with the rating here is impossible. Style wise, this album contains the fine, varied type of rock that we’re used to only this time the sound is a bit rawer. Rawer all over but mostly Strid’s lead vocals are a bit rougher and song wise, well, there’s not a dull moment here, not a second that doesn’t grab you and every damn song is brilliant. The fact that these guys keep releasing records that all have the NFO style but still are unpredictable, that you never know how the next song will sound is so damn impressive. Three masterpieces in a row, two – that really are three – 10/10’s in a row. Beat that if you can!

10/10

More Night Flight Orchestra reviews:

Internal Affairs
Skyline Whispers

Tracklist:

1. Midnight Flyer
2. Star Of Rio
3. Gemini
4. Sad State Of Affairs
5. Jennie
6. Domino
7. Josephine
8. Space Whisperer
9. Something Mysterious
10. Saturn In Velvet
11. Just Another Night (deluxe version bonus track)

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