Nocturnal Rites - Shadowland

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

Nocturnal RitesNocturnal Rites was a band about whom I had a certain impression, though I hadn't, at the time, heard a lick of music. Well, I shouldn't say impression, necessarily. We'd mentioned them in our news page, and I just gathered that, like other bands mentioned at the same time or from the same label, Nocturnal Rites would have a very dark sound, maybe "cookie-monster" vocals. But, then I heard a track at Seismic and was impressed enough to remark upon it. The CD arrived shortly thereafter - another case of CM seeming to read my mind. As my stop by the PO Box that day was on route to traveling about town, I popped the CD into the car player and was impressed by what came out of my speakers.

Now, it's a several weeks later and I've been listening to Shadowland a number of times. Well, no cookie monster vocals (a fact that for me is a plus). In fact, Nocturnal Rites remind me a lot of Royal Hunt. Vocalist Jonny Lindqvist doesn't sound like DC Cooper or John West, but there is the same sense of melodicism. There is more of an edge to their sound, and I'd guess that thematically, they are diametrically opposite. I also thought, during the title track, that they could be a heavier White Lion, but that could be because I think Lindqvist does sound a bit like Mike Tramp ... not as whiny or accented ... but it's the closest comparison.

Shadowland gets off to a great start with the first three tracks "Eyes Of The Dead," "Shadowland," and "Invincible," tracks where the choruses have been echoing in my head long after the CD has ended. The latter track makes me think of Blind Guardian, which truly is probably the closest comparison stylistically. An edgier Rhapsody, or even Symphony X without the classical overtones.

The highlights for me are the guitar playing of Nils Norberg and Fredrik Mannberg and the vocals of Lindqvist. Fantastic leads throughout, Owe Lingvall sounds at first to just be bashing and bashing, with a few interesting fills, but listening closer, you hear a little something more happening. Along with bassist Nils Eriksson, it just keeps the whole thing driving forward. Rounding out the sound, and well placed in the mix I might add, are the keyboards Mattias Bernhardsson. Too often of late in prog/power metal, keyboards seem to be oddly separated in the mix, but here, and one expects its all integrated. It gives Nocturnal Rites a very tight feel. After 5 albums, I suppose we should expect that kind of polish.

As others have noted, Nocturnal Rites haven't done something drastically different in the genre with Shadowland, and it seems rather ironic to say so, but it's an enjoyable listen. Thematically it's a dark tale of evil invading the fantasy world that we find ourselves in here, "Shadowland" serving as the idyllic opposite. I'm sure I could write pages on what I think Shadowland is all about - a mage or seer who sees dark, evil things coming to destroy that idyllic Shadowland -- the Apocalypse essentially ("Shadowland"). The rest of the tracks detail this evil overtaking, enslaving and/or killing the dwellers of Shadowland. It is a milieu and concept familiar to those who've read Tolkien and the Dragonlance series of novels, even if it doesn't dramatize (musicalize?) any particular story from either one (more likely the latter). I'll admit that after reading about six books in the Dragonlance series in college, my interests got pulled away and so I've not gone back -- no reflection on the series, of course, so sheath that sword DL fans...

All in all, it's a really good, solid album and I, for one, rather like it.

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)

Genre: Progressive-Power Metal

Origin SE

Added: September 29th 2002
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 822
Language: english


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