Narnia - Awakening

Year of Release: 1998
Label: Nuclear Blast
Catalog Number: NBCD 303
Format: CD
Total Time: 39:06:00

I hadn't known much about this band, except that they were a neo-classical band from Sweden. When I was told that their new disc, Awakening, was going to be the "disc of the year," I most assuredly bought it when I had the chance. Now that I've spent quite a bit of time with the disc, I've learned a few more things. Namely, that there are only 2 members in the band, Christian Liljegren - who does all of the vocals, and Carljohan Grimmark - who is listed as playing all of the other instruments on the disc as well as vocals. This fact alone amazed me, that one person could be this talented to play all of the instruments on a disc. The band also uses a slew of "guest" musicians, including our [Perpetual Motion] own Janne Starke on guitar. One other fact that I didn't know was that the band is highly religious, and the disc is basically dedicated to God, and the songs are all religious based.


Melodic, neo-classically based metal with keyboards. Try to imagine what Dokken would sound like if they started playing neo-classical music. Lots of this music in Narnia reminds me a lot of the classic Dokken sound, and in large parts due to the singer, who sounds a lot like Don Dokken. The opening notes are right out the Yngwie Malmsteen book of music, and many parts of the disc are fashioned in this manner. However, the band does not remain in this mode very long, and switches over to a more, straight ahead, melodic metal approach ala Dokken. The band sound is guitar driven for sure, with the keyboards playing a minimal role except for some atmospheric background. The key word here is melodic, and this band certainly knows how to write a melodic tune. Again, if the songs aren't being pulled out of the Malmsteen book of music, then they are being pulled out of the Dokken (Under Lock & Key-era ) book of music. Anyone into this particular sound will appreciate what this band is about. There are plenty of ballads, most addressed to the Lord or Heaven, and I would think that it's only a matter of time before the Christian Metal vendors start stocking this one, and it could become a big seller for that genre as well if it already isn't.


When there are only 2 members in a band, this part becomes very easy. Since one of the member is the singer, the rest of the chores are left to one, Carljohan Grimmark, who is obsviously schooled in every instrument known to man, as he plays all of the instruments, and even produces the disc. The man is super talented, and I take my hat off to a guy who can play all of these instruments, writes most of the music, and then produces a great sounding disc like this one. I am a bit confused because the insert lists Narnia as 2 persons, and on the back of the disc, Narnia thanks the "bandmembers." Actually, the band thanks just about everyone in the world as the entire back of the CD insert booklet is dedicated to thanks, and a long list it is. Well, in brief, Carljohan plays every instrument on this disc superbly, and to think that this is one person making all of this noise is simply amazing. He seems to be more guitar inclined though, as the disc is driven by a guitar sound, and he is listed as playing guitar first in the credits; and a good guitarist he is. From the neo-classical style, to a more melodic metal approach, down to the acoustic passages, the guy is excellent. Every other instrument is played in the same, superb fashion as he plays guitar.


First rate. With a talented player like Carljohan, who writes and plays everything, it is no wonder that the production is first rate as well since he is the man behind the buttons too. The disc has a nice, thick, full sound, and every instrument is at equal levels, including the guitars, which I found a bit strange. If the guitar sound has been a bit heavier and higher in the mix, this would be one potent metal disc. As it is, the recording level being the same all the way around actually makes the disc sound a bit on the lighter side of metal, again like a Dokken disc would sound like. A side note, the first song on the disc ironically is named "Break The Chains" which sounds nothing like a Dokken song, yet track #7, "Touch from You" sounds exactly like the Dokken song "Breaking The Chains." The drums are a bit back in the mix as well, making the disc sound a bit on the lighter side as well. I will keep referring back to Dokken's Under Lock & Key disc, which easily comes to mind when I hear Narnia's music. I would have to say that Awakening is just a tad lighter than Under Lock & Key, which gives you an idea of the power level of this disc.


Since I am on a Dokken kick, I have to say that the singer, Christian Liljegrn, sounds so much like Don Dokken that it's scary. He has that same tone, same style, although Christian stays well within his range while Don sometimes hovered in the upper stratosphere with ease. Every word that Christian sings can be heard clearly and precisely, which is a combination of a great production and a nice, clear voice. Anyone who likes what Don Dokken sounds like will enjoy this singer as well. He has a very pleasant tone and is very easy to listen to.


As stated, the disc's songs all point to a religious theme. The songs do not preach the word of God like some poppy metal bands of old, but instead the writer seems to be "talking" to God in some instances, and in others he just makes references to particular events and not in a preachy manner. I know lots of metal heads are turned off by this approach so I thought I would add this bit of info.


Overall, this is a very competent disc. It is pretty much melodic metal with hints of neo-classical undertones here and there. Those of you looking for something to bang your head to need not look here as this is on the lighter side of the metal spectrum. Those of you who are not into religious themes need not tread here either as every song deals with religion in some manner. Those of you who don't mind the above features and who like the Dokken approach to metal would do well in this area. It is a very melodic disc, and each song is as catchy and accessible as the next. The disc is recommended to anyone who enjoys a good dose of melodic metal.

Break The Chains (5:00) / No More Shadows From The Past (3:28) / The Return Of Aslan (4:55) / Heavenly Love (4:21) / Time Of Changes (5:14) / The Awakening (5:30) / Touch From You (3:17) / Sign Of The Time (7:21)

Christian Liljegren - lead and backing vocals
Carljohan Grimmark - guitars, lead and backing vocals, bass, keyboards, drum programming


Jakob Persson - bass (8)
Mart Hallek - violin (8)
Janne Samefors - backing vocals (5)
Janne Stark - additional guitar (2)

Awakening (1998)
Long Live The King (1999)
Desert Land (2001)
The Great Fall (2003)
Enter The Gate (2006)
Decade Of Confession (2007)
Course Of Generation (2009)

Genre: Melodic Metal

Origin SE

Added: July 25th 1999
Reviewer: Larry "LarryD" Daglieri

Artist website:
Hits: 1016
Language: english


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