Tuesday, November 12, 2002

Review: Nocturnal Rites - Shadowland (2002)

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Nocturnal Rites offer up their fifth installment of Euro-Power Metal with Shadowland. Though not straying too much from their core twin-guitar sound, the band has experimented with slight shifts in musical direction over the past couple of albums. Vocalist Jonny Lindkvist is not quite the typical Euro-wailer, but serves up his gritty delivery in the mid to upper ranges and is not in a constant state of "soaring". This fits the music well and gives the band a slightly more American Power Metal sound than their contemporaries.

On Afterlife, Nocturnal Rites presented a darker sound and emotion than their previous albums (as well as introduced new vocalist Lindkvist) but Shadowland makes a slight shift back towards more upbeat harmonies. The album is still heavy, with chugging riffs, in-your-face licks, and outstanding double-bass aggression.

That being said, there really are only a few moments that stand out from the rest of the album. "Eye of the Dead" and "Revelation" both offer catchy choruses which manage to stick with you as well as some lightly Progressive keyboard work from Mattias Bernhardsson. "Faceless God" is my favorite song on the album. It's not an all out blistering assault, but a mid-paced heavy riffing song that showcases each element of Nocturnal Rites working together in perfection. Lindkvist works in a lower vocal range than anywhere else on the album, and I think it is here that he best fits the music. His raspy voice blends best with the darker, heavier sort of metal presented on this track. Dark Power Metal is still a somewhat rare commodity these days, and I think the band would do well to trudge down this path more often in order to fill the void.

Although I've spun this disc several times before writing a review, I can't seem to get past the fact that overall the album doesn't really leave an impression. This is not at all to say that Shadowland isn't good; quite the contrary. The album is an excellent piece of tight, technically proficient metal crafted into fine songs. Unfortunately, there are a lot of bands out there delivering the same package.

Track Listing
1 Eyes Of The Dead
2 Shadowland
3 Invincible
4 Revelation
5 Never Die
6 Underworld
7 Vengeance
8 Faceless God
9 Birth Of Chaos
10 The Watcher

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