|Review: Nocturnal Rites - Shadowland|
Label: Century Media
Year released: 2002
Genre: Power Metal
Review online: November 26, 2004
Reviewed by: Sargon the Terrible
Rated 3.96/5 (79.13%) (23 Votes)
Fuck it. I know this has been out for a couple of years now, but I just want to go on record as saying this is a great frigging album. Nocturnal Rites are a popular band, but they get hardly any critical respect at all, being mostly considered too accessible to be 'really' good. Tony said before that if this band was capable of producing a classic they would have already done it, well I think they did. "Shadowland", their fifth album, is just about perfect.
I happen to think this is pretty much as good as Power Metal is ever going to get. Nocturnal Rites are not proggy, not 'True Metal', not doomy, no. They play slick and modern Power Metal, and on this album they do it better than anyone else. How can you argue with an album of killers like this CD? There is no filler on this disc at all, and I never skip even a single track. There are standouts, sure: the title cut, the awesome "Invincible", "Never Die", "Underworld", "Vengeance" – did you notice I just named half the damned tracklist as 'standouts'? That is the kind of album this is, where the other songs only pale in comparison with the stellar ones. There is not a song here that is not instantly memorable and catchy – I heard "Vengeance" once, a year before I could get the album, and I never forgot it.
And the performances here are first-rate too. Nils Norberg is a genuine shredder who always comes up with way cool riffs and leads, and this is a much heavier record than NR have ever before come up with. Ever since the addition of new singer Jonny Lindkvist on "Afterlife" this band has been getting darker and meaner, and this is their darkest and most aggressive CD. And let's talk about Lindkvist. He is, without a doubt one of the best singers working in metal today. Not because of range or technicality, but because of the feel and character of his voice. He has a sneering edge to his vocals that old frontman Anders never did, and as a result Nocturnal Rites are an instantly recognizable band. You hear that steely snarl and know right away who it is.
So this is just an absolute first-rate album that I never get tired of. "Shadowland" is everything I ask for out of Power Metal: melodic, catchy, dark, aggressive, and epic. Despite the HelloGammaWeen vein of the band's early works, here they have produced a dark and individual sound that is as good an example of their style as any band could ask for. If you like Power Metal at all then this one should be on your shelf, because it just does not get any better.
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