Published on June 22nd, 2017 | by Justin G.
The Night Flight Orchestra: Amber Galactic (Nuclear Blast)
Swedish supergroup The Night Flight Orchestra just released their third album, titled Amber Galactic. It’s their first album on the Nuclear Blast label, and as such it’s the first time a lot of us are hearing this band. The Night Flight Orchestra is made up of vocalist Bjorn “Speed” Strid (Soilwork), guitarist David Andersson (Soilwork), bassist Sharlee D’Angelo (Arch Enemy), keyboardist Richard Larsson and drummer Jonas Kallsback (Mean Streak).
So what does a group made up of Swedish death metal veterans sound like? It sounds like 1982. Yeah, go figure. This band is pretty much a big love letter to the early ‘80s AOR sound, and it’s just glorious. There are more than a few bands paying tribute to the later ‘80s AOR scene (Brother Firetribe, Outloud, etc.), but none that go back to the era of Toto, .38 Special, Saga and the like. The Night Flight Orchestra does a brilliant job capturing the spirit of those old AOR sounds, and in the process have given us one of 2017’s most addictive albums.
I never do the song-by-song breakdown, but man it’s tempting here if for no other reason than to go “that’s a Toto song, that’s a Saga song, that’s a Marillion song, that’s all Kiss and Thin Lizzy and OMG that’s MagnumUriahHeepAprilWineStyxREOBoston!” and so forth. The band’s influences on Amber Galactic are crystal clear. Beyond that, the songs are just ridiculously memorable. I’ve had the CD a week and have already spun it enough times to sing along (poorly, but enthusiastically) to almost all of these tracks. The first single “Gemeni” (which has a fantastic video, by the way) is my favorite, but “Domino” is fantastic in its total Toto-ness, “Midnight Flyer” and “Sad State of Affairs” have impeccable melodies and “Something Mysterious” hits that perfect balance of drama and cheese.
Amber Galactic is like going through the record bins and pulling out all the rock albums from 1980-1983 and distilling them into one mixtape. The nostalgia factor, the fun factor and the replay value are off the charts. The Night Flight Orchestra did everything right here, and have given the children of the ‘70s and ‘80s a true must-have album. Now I just need to track down their first two albums (or Nuclear Blast could do us all a solid and reissue them).
Summary: This gloriously old school AOR album may be the best thing released this year.