Greece doesn’t have the stoner scene reputation of Sweden or the Palm Desert in California, but you’d never know it once you got lost in Superfreak, the latest offering (first for MeteorCity) from long-running rockers Nightstalker. The band formed in 1990 and has been going steadily ever since, but even if Superfreak is your first experience with them – as it was mine – the easily accessible songs, catchy choruses and memorable musical hooks will make the band a standout in your mind, especially if you’re a fan of a straightforward approach.
Actually, make that “especially” a double. Though on a couple tracks it can feel like Nightstalker are pounding you over the head with the repeated lines of a chorus – “Baby, God is Dead,” “The Light,” “Superfreak” – these are also some of the record’s strongest moments. Nightstalker have all the tightness in their presentation of a solid but underrated Euro act like Red Aim, but vocalist Argy alternately channels Ozzy Osbourne and Dave Wyndorf, setting the band apart from an otherwise forgettable pack of similarly-minded acts.
The name of the game here is structure, both within the songs and for the album as a whole. The songs are rigid in their verse-chorus-verse progression – if “rigid” is the right word to use for this kind of music – but stepped back, the flow of the album relies heavily on the sound of one song leading into the next. Superfreak keeps a flow going right until closer “Gun” offers a quick cap to the few relatively more involved songs preceding. That’s not to say “Stain” and “Zero Hero” are prog indulgences. Not by a longshot. Rather, like the title-track positioned at track five of 12, these, the only other tracks over five minutes long, serve well to change up the sound of the album a bit and offer listeners in it for the longer haul something for sticking around.
Superfreak is simple in the sense that there isn’t a ton of mathematically calculated angular riffs or songs in impossible to trace time signatures, but if it comes off as simple, one needs to remember how difficult it actually is to write a solid pop song. As a fan of structured songwriting in general, I find myself admiring Nightstalker‘s ability to make it seem easy. Guitarist Tolis and bassist Andreas both make excellent use of the room in the songs for solos, and along with Argy‘s vocals, they present a solid front of traditionally-minded stonerisms with an ear for melody and prowess for the rock. Tracks like “The Pain Goes On” and “The End of War” show off just how together the band are as players, and it’s a pleasure to hear.
Clearly if you’re still in a band after 20 years of slogging it out, you must believe in what you’re doing. Nightstalker come across on Superfreak as sincere and aware that what they’re doing probably won’t make them the biggest band in the world, but that hasn’t stopped them yet, and if the strength and passion present on this record is any indicator, it won’t any time soon.Greece, MeteorCity, Nightstalker