2/18/2006 - Review by: Anthony Burke
Nocturnal Rites - Grand Illusion - 2006 - Century Media
The band was originally formed as Necronomic, a death metal act. Some of the band took death literal, and started acting dead, eventually causing the band to part ways. The two remaining members, vocalist/guitarist Fredrik and drummer Tommy Eriksson added bassist Nils Eriksson. From here, they hit the studio in 1991 to record a demo, known as "Nocturnal Rites". Still a death metal band, they started showing signs of what we now know in 1991. When Tommy Eriksson left the band and was replaced by Ulf Andersson, this prompted the addition of a second guitarist, Mikael Söderström. When they re-entered the studio in 1993, it was clear that the vocal abilities of Fredrick were not evolving with Nocturnal Rites. In steps Anders Zackrisson to save the day. In 1993/1994, the band signed on the dotted line with Dark Age Records, who partnered with Megaforce. The year is 1995 and an impressive debut, "In a Time of Blood and Fire", was released. Before the follow-up CD was complete, Mikael Söderström left, but was replaced by Nils Norberg. Dark Age Records inked a deal with Century Media in 1998, and released the band’s next endeavor, “Tales of Mystery and Imagination”. After a European tour, the guys released “The Sacred Talisman”. Nocturnal Rites then joined Lefay and Nevermore for their first major tour. It was then that Anders Zackrisson parted ways with the band, but quickly Jonny Lindqvist filled the shoes. The Nocturnal Rites of today was born. The players are Jonny Lindkvist (Vocals), Fredrik Mannberg (Guitar), Nils Eriksson (Bass), Nils Norberg (Guitar, Guitar Synthesizer), Owe Lingvall (Drums), and making guest appearances is Mattias Bernhardsson (Keyboards). This has been the lineup since the release of “Afterlife” in 2000, and my advice is stick with what works.
Just starting this CD, one can notice a very power packed and melodic album. The power doesn’t let up, featuring a guitar solo as well as a keyboard solo. Classic I tell you. Can track two fill those large shoes as well? They respond with an astounding yes. There is an Edguy feel, but make no mistake, this is Nocturnal Rites kicking your ass. Track three's intro will take your breath away. They gave it everything they had plus some when they wrote and created this song. To any critic who thought their career was dead, they spit in your face, and make noise doing so. Track four opens with a drum solo and leads into the loudest, heaviest song and best vocals of this masterpiece. I could go track by track, but why? Every track is melodic, yet powerful (and some even add death vocals which is unique to this album). And never fear, each song has a place, there are no filler tracks found here. So just get it, listen to it, and you’ll see that this is their “deal with the devil” album. Warning, be prepared to bang your head until it hurts.
Let me be honest, people have stated that everything after “Shadowland” has become bland and unoriginal, just a clone of “Afterlife”. I say, just step away from the crack pipe. To say this band has no originality left is like saying your shit doesn’t stink. Granted, this is one of the more well-known, yet underrated bands out there, but the feeling this CD leaves is unlike anything that has been done by these guys. A buddy of mine put this CD across my desk and gave me the opportunity to review it, since he knew that I am a huge fan of their work. Thank you, and you know who you are, thank you for making me remember why it is that I love this band. Any fan of metal WILL like this album, I promise. For any newbie to the band, I demand you start with this album. If this is not the album that catapults them to that next level, someone give me a rope and point me towards a tall tree.
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