Nocturnal Rites - Shadowland

Year of Release: 2002
Label: Century Media
Catalog Number: 8132-2
Format: CD
Total Time: 44:25:00

I've been a fan of Nocturnal Rites from their album Tales Of Mystery And Imagination (1998). Around the same time that album was released, HammerFall were spreading their wings and taking over the European traditional power metal market, and whilst Nocturnal Rites were, at the time, very similar they looked to the future and brought vocalist Johnny Lindqvist into the line-up (for the album Afterlife). From then on, NR have grown in strength and stature and now NR release another album - Shadowland.

Just to start with - and I don't mean this to sound negative - Shadowland is fairly unoriginal, but like Freedom Call's new album Eternity, Nocturnal Rites have elements here that take them above many power metal favourites. NR compensate for a lack of originality with a vigour and vitality that leaves others for dead. As you'd expect, NR are heavy on melody and heavy on crunchy, loud guitars and from the opening few seconds you do know what you are in for. But does it last?

The good news is that, yes, it does last, because the album is so well conceived and performed with 10 songs ending after 45 minutes. Nothing too long, nothing too short. Vocalist Johnny Lindqvist is, firstly, a name to remember, and secondly, a good amalgam of Ronnie James Dio and Jeff Scott Soto (Humanimal, ex-Axel Rudi Pell). Not that I consider vocalists to be the centre of a band, but they certainly make life easier if they are good and Lindqvist's performance is nothing short of outstanding. His voice doesn't have the nut-crunching falsettos that ravages many European power metal bands and instead he opts for a low-key, powerful approach that has similarities to perennial Swedish favourites Tad Morose and (Morgana) Lefay. His dogged, determined singing doesn't alienate the listener and his passion alone makes the album worth listening to. In fact, he never seems to stop singing on the album. Or maybe I just hang off every note. :-)

Shadowland's songs are wonderful on this album and they are convincingly sung and played. Worthy mentions include the twin lead guitars of Fredrik Mannberg and Nils Norberg - two quality performers who lead each and every song. They don't hold back in making the album heavy and the rhythm section of drummer Owe Lingvall and bassist Nils Eriksson tactfully push the album into higher status. Still, Shadowland is a fairly traditional album that marches along at a fast pace, bar the mid-paced, semi-ballads of "Underworld" and "Invincible" - both of which deserve credit. Even when the band slows down they remain heavy. "Birth Of Chaos" is another favourite, as are the two openers.

The end comes quite quickly, but it's a good album that isn't overly long. The final song is the wonderfully melodic "The Watcher" which is one of the most musically different tracks on the album and an absolute wonder to listen to. It's dominated by the lead guitarist and if they keep this style up then we're in for a few good years of more Nocturnal Rites. A couple of the songs are a bit too similar but that shouldn't deter fans of power metal because you won't care about that. And you shouldn't, as NR do make use of techniques that break the fast paced motion of the album.

Nocturnal Rites manage to capture an excitement and power not evident in all power metal albums. Yes, it's unoriginal in the grand scheme of things but so what. This music is here to be enjoyed, to be played loud, and bring people together - and it's something that Nocturnal Rites have achieved once again.

Similar To: Tad Morose, Lost Horizon, HammerFall

[This review originally appeared November 2002 at the ProgPower Online review site -ed.]

Eyes Of The Dead (4:53) / Shadowland (4:32) / Invincible (4:57) / Revelation (4:44) / Never Die (4:23) / Underworld (4:27) / Vengeance (5:19) / Faceless God (5:14) / Birth Of Chaos (4:16) / The Watcher (4:00)

Jonny Lindqvist - vocals
Fredrik Mannberg - guitar
Nils Norberg - lead guitar
Nils Eriksson - bass
Owe Lingvall - drums
Mattias Bernhardsson - keyboards

In A Time Of Blood And Fire (1996)
Tales Of Mystery And Imagination (1997)
The Sacred Talisman (1999)
Afterlife (2000)
Shadowland (2002)
New World Messiah (2004)
Lost In Time (2005)
Grand Illusion (2005)
The 8th Sin (2007)
Phoenix (2017)

Genre: Progressive-Power Metal

Origin SE

Added: January 17th 2005
Reviewer: Gary Carson
Artist website:
Hits: 1194
Language: english


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