Album Reviews

Niviane – The Druid King

Niviane is an American power metal band hailing from Sacramento, California. The band delivers a high energy dual guitar attack, driving rhythm section, fronted by soaring heavy vocals to produce what has been branded A New Breed of American Power Metal.

The line-up consisting of vocalist Norman Skinner (Imagika, Skinner, Hellscream), guitarists Gary Tarplee and Mark Miner, Bassist Rick Stallkamp & drummer Noe Luna (Skinner, 3 Lunas) completed their debut album in March 2017 with the additional talents of Aaron Robitsch (Graveshadow) brought in to compose and record keyboards. If I were to describe Niviane’s sound, I would say it is on the darker side of modern power metal, similar to Iced Earth as opposed to the more fantasy based style of a band like Rhapsody. Lead vocalist Norman Skinner’s tone and range are very comparable to Matt Barlow formerly of Iced Earth.

The album begins with the grindingly heavy track The Beserker, which showcases Skinner’s vocal range and power as well as the twin guitar attack of Tarplee and Miner. Adrestia starts off with the rhythm section of Stallkamp and Luna laying down the groove for a song with a Middle-Eastern flavor. There is a vintage Savatage meets Iced Earth feel and a great vocal melody line.

Watch The Banners Fall is an old-school metal anthem with a riff that is reminiscent of We Rock from Dio. Skinner shows his diversity with a powerful emotional vocal during the songs slower moments and his ability to flip the switch to a higher power metal scream.

Into Twilight is a highly melodic affair with a killer guitar riff and catchy vocal melodies and vocal harmonies. The twin lead guitar harmony solo section is killer as well. Gladiator and Arise Samurai are two old school metal anthems in the fine tradition of Accept and Judas Priest with a modern Nevermore-esque edge and Skinner’s pipes on full display.

Elegy has a vintage Queensrÿche feel during the intro and builds slowly to a mid-tempo dark metal monster of a track with nods to Warrel Dane and Geoff Tate with the vocal melodies.

March of the Jötunn has a Soldiers Under Command style opening riff and is an all out power metal assault on the senses with Skinner’s vocals turning more aggressive.

War of Immortals is an epic track, which begins with the sounds of battle behind a clean guitar passage building to a massive riff and double bass drum power metal attack with Skinner’s vocal screams piercing the senses.

Heaven Overflow is another song that perfectly balances classic metal with moderm power metal sensibilities with an opening riff that reminds this reviewer of the classic Yngwie track, I’ll See The Light Tonight.

The album’s title track is the grand finale with a majestic harmony guitar lead and melodic vocals layered with Skinner’s harsh vocals to create a great moodiness and atmosphere to the song. There is nothing new or groundbreaking here, or on the album as a whole, but that’s okay, with The Druid King, Niviane has thrown their hat in the ring to be considered in the upper echelon of American power metal bands. An impressive debut album I would recommend to fans of the genre.

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