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Night Flight Orchestra - Aeromatic - CD -

Price per Unit (stuk): €19.95

Normally, the first few lines of an album review are fertile soil for some rock-and-roll philosophy, or irony, or witticisms, or some old-fashioned rock history. However, what does one say about a Helsingborg-based Swedish metal band, with a mild-mannered Clark Kent alter ego in the form of a 70s/80s glam funk AOR band themed around airline travel? Not much. It has a way of speaking for itself.

In the way of light history, metal band Soilwork gives us fairly legendary Björn “Speed” Strid on vocals, as well as David Andersson on guitars. From 2007 to 2012, the two began scheming a musical way to tell the tales of rock-and-roll excess and absurdity of the 70s and 80s, and once Arch Enemy’s Sharlee D’Angelo insisted upon not being left out of the absurd shenanigans, thus was The Night Flight Orchestra born. In the years since, the band released four albums, exploring tales of travel, romance, heartbreak, space exploration, and even the deliciously retro “Turn to Miami” found on their fourth album, “Sometimes the World Ain’t Enough,” complete with its obviously quasi Miami Vice underpinnings.

It is the fate of the year 2020 to receive a fifth album from the band, entitled “Aeromantic,” featuring Jonas Källsbäck on drums, Sebastian Forslund on guitar, percussion and effects, and most naturally, the “Airline Annas,” two talented Swedish vocalist pinups offering occasional backup vocals on the record when they are not supporting the band onstage while touring. The album is unmistakably NFO, but this may be the most cohesive and naturally flowing offering of the band to date. All the songs are unique from each other, and yet, they are structured to lead into one another, and flow so seamlessly that it’s like a highway drive with a baseball game on the radio. The miles and the minutes just melt away, and it’s a positive of this album. Some records can have a feeling of “is this over yet?” However, “Aeromantic” never gets that overstayed welcome sensation, and if anything the listener may be sad it is over.

The album begins with radio static and ostensibly Swedish female chatter, before the bands nigh-DiCola keyboard drives us forward into a military march snare, and eventually a relentless blitz, a bit like a Cozy Powell tune like “The Blister,” except imagine it with a Jake E. Lee sort of series of hard-hitting chords alternating with open note palm mute chugging, with double kick drums pounding all the while. This opening song, “Servants of the Air,” a reference to the flight-attendant iconography of the album, is packed with energy and production, and certainly “serves” as an effective icebreaker. After some iterations of the big chorus, the song shifts into a sludgy minor bridge akin to something from Bigelf’s “Cheat the Gallows” album, possibly “The Gravest Show on Earth,” before emerging back into a boisterous keyboards and guitar duel section and hitting us with the chorus one more time. The song transitions us nicely into the second track, “Divinyls,” although the Swedish radio chatter continues to be slightly weird for an international audience. There were a few Swedish female spoken word bits on the previous album as well, and perhaps it’s fun window dressing if an overwhelming majority of one’s market is domestic to Sweden. What’s important is the songs themselves are catchy as hell, and “Divinyls” is no exception. Jammed full of poppy funky bits and hooks, the song has one of the best choruses of the album, in terms of getting stuck in the listener’s head.

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