I want to be honest, above all else. So, curb your enthusiasm and prepare to be mildly entertained.

Release date: November 3, 2023 | Many Hats Distribution | Spotify | Instagram

Honestly, I was very close to never even hearing this album, until who knows how much later. It just so happened, that I saw it on our review list labeled as synthwave/metalcore and that kind of piqued my interest. I expected this to be either terrible or amazing. I can’t really go as far as to say that it’s an amazing album, but it turned out to be a lot of fun, in spite of its shortcomings. I don’t really know anything about the band, other than the fact that members from Affiance and Ice Nine Kills formed Night Rider.

After about a dozen listens, I think I managed to wring out, mentally, everything I could from this record. I wouldn’t necessarily call Night Rider a synthwave album which is equal parts metalcore (or vice versa). It’s very much a metalcore album which is laced with a lot of electronic elements, but besides that, I also argue that in terms of tonal representation and dynamics it could also pass somewhat into post-hardcore as well. The variety of electronic sounds splattered about make the album feel busy, maybe a bit too crowded at times to be honest. Although, I tend to lean more on music that’s packed, so, having my attention brought to a lot of things going on at the same time keeps things fun.

There aren’t any particular songs which stray from the classic modern metalcore song recipe, though. In that sense, it’s not particularly creative, playing a safe card for the sake of a guaranteed result. Being saturated with tropes, it makes it rather hard to call from memory any memorable moments when discussing the record, aside from (I actually had to listen to the entire album one more time as I was writing this, because I legit forgot which songs) “Fearmonger” and “Antithesis”. It also makes the album as a whole feel less like an album and more like a collection of stock recipes thrown together.

I don’t mean to sound crass, but the saving grace of Night Rider are the electronic layers and the vocals, it wouldn’t be much of an album otherwise. The vocal lines are fairly catchy in a way that isn’t overly cheesy and the delivery is surprisingly great. The vocalist is doing a really awesome job, both with the cleans and the screams. The fun part for me is precisely this, the riffs, and the mood that’s created by the non-metal side of the album. I actually had to drive to the town next door one night and put the album on and it was a surprisingly good accompaniment. It’s nice to have in the background to set the mood for something, but not much to look at upon close inspection or active listening.

The production also sits pretty much alongside the stock metalcore angle. It’s relatively sterile, everything is super loud and over compressed. The separation is, let’s say acceptable, you can distinguish layers well enough if you have a good rig or decent headphones, otherwise, it can be a bit noisy overall. The bass and the guitars are very rough and loose tone wise. That could’ve been cleaned up a bit better, especially since there are so many things going on. I mean I know it’s hard to fight the impulse, but the gain knob can be turned down. While we’re on the nitpicky side, I’d also like to mention that I would’ve added some sub bass on the riffs and/or drums to make things punch a bit harder, you know, since there are already a ton of electronics present.

Night Rider isn’t anything that will make waves as a musical statement, nor do I think it will endure the test of time. Super fans of the genre(s) will most likely enjoy this record. Look, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t – I did listen to it a fair few times and willingly wrote my analysis of it – it’s fun, but it isn’t much more than that. If you made it this far and didn’t rage quit on this review, go check the record out, it might be worth at least one listen. I’ll leave it in my playlist saved for background listening along with the other similar bands. I will keep an eye out for the band though. If the vocalist makes a synthwave band where he sings as well, I’ll absolutely need to check that out.

Robert Miklos

Robert Miklos

What can I say? I love slapping keys and listening to squiggly air.

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