New World Messiah
posted on 3/2004 By:
Power Metal. Okay, now that I’ve scared off the heathens, shall we continue? New World Messiah is the newest offering from Nocturnal Rites, containing their signature guitar tone and keyboard-heavy style. Being one of the few power metal bands in existence with a sound all their own, a new album is always welcome! New World Messiah isn’t as good as their last album (Shadowland), but it does the job.
While most power metal bands are self-satisfying speed whores, Nocturnal Rites is more of a rhythm band. They have a killer guitar tone. It’s thick and meaty, you feel as if you can almost take a big bite out of it. I suppose you could describe it as a very mechanical sound, full bodied and rich. This wouldn’t work with a high speed band, you’d need a more heavenly, twinkly sound for that. Nocturnal Rites’ heavier, thicker tone works beautifully with their mid-to-slow paced rockers. Consider this analogy: Hypocrisy is to death metal as Nocturnal Rites is to power metal. Both are masters of the thick-toned mid-pacer.
Now here comes the other side of the spectrum. Shadowland had a great variety of song paces, from medium-fast to slow. The best songs were the medium paced heavy rockers, like “Faceless God”, “Vengeance”, “Invincible”, and the title track. There were some quicker tracks and some slower tracks, which made you appreciate the individuality of the aforementioned classics. With New World Messiah, it seems like they’re trying to capitalize on what makes them a great band, but they end up overcompensating. It seems like every track has almost the same tempo, 4/4 time, and a somewhat similar chorus. It still works, but not quite as well. Ironically (due to the Hypocrisy analogy), we have a catch-22 situation on our hands.
There’s still a handful of variety here, with “Awakening” and “One Nation” being a little bit speedier, although pretty much identical. There is, of course, the obligatory Egyptian-themed track in “Egyptica”. The thing that keeps this album alive is the great vocal talent of singer Jonny Lindkvist. He’s similar to a Matt Barlow in that he may not have the best range or technical skill, but he has soul and personality that keep you interested.
Nocturnal Rites is a band whose whole is greater than the sum of its parts. A lot of bands have a cool guitar tone. Others have great singers, still more have interesting songwriting. It’s the way all of these things interact that make this band worth hearing. While this album isn’t nearly as good as Shadowland, it was still well worth my time. I love their style, lyrical content, heaviness, and soul. With a serious lack of good power metal these days, it’s nice to see that some bands still try to innovate, even if they do falter here and there.
Against the World - The signature sound of the band
Break Away - Great opening riff and chorus, meaty guitars
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