Heavy riffs the name of the game.
The Swedish metal and rock scene is in pretty good knick at the moment, and to help carry on this trend is the heavy, filthy and adrenaline fuelled Nale. Their new album Ghost Road Blues isn't the most complex record in the world, instead it's a piece of music that is able to hit you hard in all the right places, and a lot of the time, that's all you need. However it is fair to comment that at times Ghost Road Blues felt like a bit of a mixed bag, with some tracks feeling a bit generic, with others showing flashes of brilliance. But then, all albums have their standard album fillers, and the weaker tracks certainly fall under that category.
The album opens with Basher which is an impressive and powerful track that sets you up perfectly for the rest of the album. Immediately you get what this band is all about; writing dirty, greasy riffs exuding an aggressive attitude. The next two tracks however just have that 'generic' feel mentioned earlier. After the hard-hitting opener, these just feel like they are lacking something. Then almost out of nowhere Why Am I? just absolutely unleashes and is definitely one of the real high points on the album. The riffs just feel more inventive, and you just get a sense that a lot more imagination was put into the songs construction. The final minute or so in particular is really good and most importantly engaging. Why Am I? shows off why this band have a great potential. Alongside the more engaging and inventive riffing, there is just an added aggression to the vocals and a great drumming display keeping it all tight and together.
The next track, Burning, you find yourself asking, just why? After listening through the album several times, it is still unclear as to why this is here. The best interludes on albums help build up and lead into the next track, or the second part of the album but this achieves none of that. It actually sounds like a good intro to a song so it's a shame something wasn't actually attached to it. Similar to Why Am I however, the next track From Sh*t To Salvation brings back the raucous attitude Nale are capable of delivering. When generally looking at the second half of the album it just feels a lot stronger than the first half. Some of the later tracks like Catch 27 and New World Order are just really great heavy metal tunes. So if you are listening to this album and you get some of the same impressions as me during the first half of the album, stick with it because it does begin to pick up in a big way.
So when looking at the complete picture, Ghost Road Blues is a good heavy metal album. Yes, it is let down a bit by some of the weaker tracks and even in some of the better ones it still feels like they could step it up a bit more, it is perhaps unfair to say that the album feels 'safe', but it is still enjoyable enough for repeat listening. The real exciting prospect with Nale is what they have the potential of offering up in the future. If they can bring together all of the highpoints from Ghost Road Blues, whilst looking to break new boundaries, then the next album could be massive. This is a talented bunch of musicians who are certainly more than capable of writing songs that hit you hard.