NOCTURNAL RITES - AFTERLIFE - CENTURY MEDIA
Armed with a new singer, Swedish heavy metallers Nocturnal Rites have apparently abandoned 'swords and warriors' in favour of a more modern approach. Even if the band's moniker might make little allowance for it, the band is now focused lyrically on being more modern and has consequently released the new album featuring ten tracks like Wake Up Dead, Hellenium and Genetic Distortion Sequence. Vocally Jonny Lindkvist does an admirable job with his delivery - slightly high-pitched yet well-balanced. The band sound like a cross between the power metal of Gamma Ray, melodies of Alcatrazz and the progressive touches of older Dream Theater. It's all very respectable and all, unless the presence of a keyboardist is factored in. The songs lack individuality and seem to be indistinguishable here but this new line up is clearly more Hammerfall than Malmsteen and that should usher in a new set of fans. - Ali "The Metallian"
NOCTURNAL RITES - SHADOWLAND - CENTURY MEDIA
The first element that hits me upon arriving at Shadowland is how the album's cover art would resemble that of Kataklysm's debut EP were it not for the druid. Other than that the two bands could not be more dissimilar. Nocturnal Rites is a highly accomplished power metal band from Sweden with whirlwind melodies and lead work that melts the heart. The band simply knows how to write a classy metal tune and nigh on every song on Shadowland matches that description.
Having said that, two snags have to be pointed out. Firstly Johan Lindqvist, an accomplished singer, occasionally has the wrong vocal phrasing for the particular track. Still, he does a good job most of the time and soars as befits the band and style. More seriously is drummer Owe Lingvall's habit of shredding the songs with his incongruous drumming. It often sounds as if he and the band are playing different tunes. His disruptive pattern, admittedly not omnipresent, is due both his speed and tone.
Bottom line: Nocturnal Rites is a catchy heavy metal band with enough sense to write good songs, keep the music heavy, keyboards in the background and the vocals meaningful.
NOCTURNAL RITES - NEW WORLD MESSIAH - CENTURY MEDIA
The cover artwork for New World Messiah has the feel of the early Dio albums. Yet, that is not the only Dio linkage, but more on that a little later. New World Messiah is a luscious hard rock/heavy metal album filled with good songs, beautiful guitars and very impressive vocals. In fact, it would not be too much of a stretch to say that Johnny Lindqvist is the band's main asset. The man is confident, articulate and ambitious at the same time. His singing brings a certain emotive quality to Nocturnal Rites that many contemporary bands lack. The keyboards have been minimized on the album, thus rendering this outing both heavier and more relevant. The parts with keyboards that do exist, mixed with the Arabesque melodies, give Nocturnal Rites a sound akin to Rainbow - a compliment in itself. New World Messiah might not be quite that, but is a hell of a deliverer among current albums nonetheless. - Ali "The Metallian"
NOCTURNAL RITES - GRAND ILLUSION - CENTURY MEDIA
Is it not funny how things change so quickly? It was only last year that power metal was the hope (and money bringer) for many a metal label. Fast forward one year and bands and labels are avoiding the tag like the plague.
The new album of Sweden's "powerful hard rock" band Nocturnal Rites is called Grand Illusion, but there is nothing illusory about the quintet's capable delivery. Long one of the better power..., er, powerful hard rock bands around the group is not about to disappoint with its 2006 release. The band still uses keyboards and a song like album-closer Deliverance is composed to be accessible, but tracks like Fools Never Die, Never Trust and Never Ending never let the listener down. The band's singer Jonny Lindkvist has a strong and passionate voice and is not a minor asset. As importantly, the guitars do not play coy and deliver a solid rhythm and exciting lead parts. The band's riffs and penchant for good melodies trumps the keyboards on pompous songs like Cuts Like A Knife. Fans of progressive metal will probably appreciate these though.
Nocturnal Rites has steadily issued fine albums for ten years now which have even grown better. With labels and bands not so hot on the sub-genre any longer this might actually be the optimal time to give these rites a listen. - Ali "The Metallian"
NOCTURNAL RITES - THE 8TH SIN - CENTURY MEDIA
The Swedish heavy metallers are back with their eighth release and calling out to progressive metal fans. The opener perhaps appropriately titled Call Out To The World features Jonny Lindqvist’s all encompassing strong and melodic vocals, solid heavy metal riffs and solos and a heavy rhythm but is not helped with segments that sound like In Flames’ commercial offerings. Never Again follows and features a few techno sounding effects which take away from the somewhat catchy and progressive sound of the rest of the song. Not The Only is almost operatic and ballad like with shades of Evergrey or any other in the Scandinavian melodic genre. Tell Me follows and is pretty much a clone of what preceded it, a four minute journey into metal riffs, a competent solo or two, dominant vocals and a slow segment or two too. In The 8th Sin we may not be seeing the quintet running out of ideas but certainly they have decided to firmly establish themselves in this genre that has brought them success. Not Like You, Leave Me Alone, Till I Come Alive, Strong Enough, Me, Pain & Pleasure and the closing outro Fool’s Parade are further trips into the progressive and heavy metal interspersed with anthemic lyrics and more than is necessary annoying effects. - Anna Tergel