Night Visions (Expanded Edition) [Super Deluxe]
“This is it, the apocalypse,” Imagine Dragons’ frontman Dan Reynolds boldly declares on “Radioactive,” the thunderous opening track of the Las Vegas quartet’s monstrous 2012 debut album. “Welcome to the new age,” he continues with an ominous snarl, as if challenging anyone to suggest otherwise. The track pushes on like a gladiator's call to arms, punctuated with earth-shattering bass. It’s an all-or-nothing stadium rouser that introduces Imagine Dragons as a band ready to take on the world—and boy, would it. “Radioactive” has since been certified Diamond and become one of the best-selling singles of all time. Not bad for a band that was closing out the 2000s playing the local casino scene just to make rent. Night Visions is a clear marker of its time, an uncompromising amalgam of early 21st-century alt-rock—think The Killers’ soaring sincerity mixed with Muse’s formidable swagger and Mumford & Sons’ folky zeal—infused with boisterous elements of hip-hop and dubstep. The band seems on a mission to outdo itself with every track. The top half of the album—heavy in hits—sets out to prove this. “It’s Time” is a vivid anthem for picking oneself up, buoyed by guitarist Wayne Sermon’s plunky mandolin, while “On Top of the World” adds a touch of Jack Johnson-like levity to a clap-happy Steve Reich sample. But it’s not all so optimistic. “Demons” slips back into the darkness, plodding up a bass-laden hill in search of peak catharsis. That intensity never lets up through the second half. Reynolds counts his sins over the jagged rhythms of “Bleeding Out” and reflects on the band’s humble beginnings on the squelchy, synth-edged banger “Underdog.” The members finally let themselves stretch out on the sprawling rock-operatic closer “Nothing Left To Say / Rocks (Medley),” which ends on a merry, mandolin-fueled note and one pivotal question from Reynolds: “Where do we go from here?” This 10-year-anniversary Super Deluxe Edition from 2022 reveals where Imagine Dragons started—many of the bonus studio recordings can be found on earlier EPs, like the midtempo meditation “The River”—and where they began to hit their stride. A buoyant 2014 performance from Red Rocks shows how well the band translates the ferocity of the record to the stage, while the final collection of remixes highlight its wide-range appeal.