Release DetailsLABEL Century Media
RELEASED ON 1/24/2006
posted on 12/2005 By:
Now here’s a power metal album I can sink my teeth into without worrying about any hidden aluminum foil. Take the name of the album with a grain of salt, because while these Swedes’ seventh full-length may be called Grand Illusion, its ten tracks prove that this is the real deal: one of 2005’s truly great p-o-w-e-r recordings.
In a strictly metal context, power usually means the power to bend over and take it in the ass from every salivating genre enthusiast interested in lyrics about spells, potions, and swordfights. Not my idea of power, but apparently it’s not Nocturnal Rites’ idea of power either. With song titles like, “Cuts Like a Knife,” featuring guest vocals from Kristoffer W. Olivius of Naglfar, and “One by One,” you know you’re in for a truly powerful metal experience.
You couldn’t find a more suitable vocalist for Nocturnal Rites’ biting riffs than Jonny Lindkvist. This guy can display range without mimicking the thousands of other power singers ripping Halford. In other words, he doesn’t have to register 10.0 on the P.M.R.S. (Pussy Metal Richter Scale) to sound commanding. I say this because I consider myself a pretty typical metalhead. I can pick a few things that I like from every genre, but there are a few genres that I am less likely to pick things from, and power metal is certainly one of those genres. Most who complain about power metal complain less about the guitar work than about the vocals, and you can count me among the majority. The overdone vocals bury the average power metal album just past the six-foot mark for me. Not one to revive the dead, I save such albums for the genre’s diehards. Lucky for you all, you don’t have to be a die-hard to love Grand Illusion.
Epic without attaining that easily made fun of sound that wise-asses often accuse power metal of spewing out, most of Grand Illusion’s songs focus on building strong, semi-technical riffs around sugary sweet choruses. Not once does this album sound too light or playful. The two songs that really stand out for me, and seem to define the height of the group’s potential, are “Still Alive” and album-opener “Fools Never Die.” In fact, throw in the first three tracks and you’d have enough bombastic material to make 2005’s best power metal EP. If this album were a Christmas stocking, guitarists Nils Norberg and Frederick Mannberg would have stuffed it with so many god damn killer riffs that the thing would have burst before anybody could have taken it down from the mantle. If you thought Primal Fear’s latest was good, you owe it to yourself to buy Grand Illusion. Unfortunately, the album suffers from the most common killer; old age. While Grand Illusion’s later tracks are still better than what most in the genre are currently releasing, songs like “End of Our Rope” and “Never Ending” are mediocre in comparison to the album’s first three tracks. “Deliverance” does end the album on a good note though, and two or three mediocre tracks can’t keep Grand Illusion from registering as one of 2005’s top three power metal albums.
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