There is an old phrase extolling the virtue of patience, “good things come to those who wait”. Never did that phrase ring truer than the return of Nocturnal Rites to the metal music landscape. I have been a big fan of Nocturnal Rites since 2004’s New World Messiah and I was lucky enough to witness the bands amazing performance at ProgPower USA in 2010. After that incredible high, the band seemed to disappear from the face of the earth. Guitarist Chris Rörland (who replaced original guitarist Nils Norberg) departed the band in 2012 to join Sabaton and ever since then there was nothing from the Nocturnal Rites Camp. There were rumors that the band broke up, or that work was being done on a new album, but nothing concrete.
Then a couple of months ago, a sign of life, as the bands Facebook page, which had been inactive for years, provided the simple post with “Hello”. Soon, a new profile photo was added, followed by a brand new band photo featuring none other than Swedish guitar sensation Per Nilsson of Scar Symmetry as their new lead guitarist along with vocalist Jonny Lindqvist, bassist Nils Eriksson, guitarist Fredrik Mannberg, and drummer
Owe Lingvall. Could it be that Nocturnal Rites were finally back with a new album after a seven year hiatus? Finally the seven year hiatus of the band was at an end as it was announced that Nocturnal Rites has signed to AFM Records and are preparing to release their new album, appropriately titled Phoenix on September 29, 2017.
So now the question is, after seven years, is Phoenix worth the wait? The answer is emphatically, YES! All the trademarks of the Nocturnal Rites sound are here, the soaring, charismatic, gritty, and melodic vocals of Jonny Lindqvist, the heavy guitar riffs, the brilliant melodies, and the heavy hitting drums of Lingvall. It’s all here plus some surprises along the way. While Per Nilsson didn’t actually contribute to the songwriting process, his presence is felt with some incredible lead guitar work that adds a new dynamic to Nocturnal Rites melodic metal sound.
The album picks up right where the bands last album, The 8th Sin left off with the crushing heavy riff of Heart Black As Coal. Lindqvist’s range hasn’t lost a bit of power or melodic range providing strong and gritty vocal melodies. The fast paced Before We Waste Away is a classic Nocturnal Rites anthem with soaring melodies and a great uplifting hook-laden chorus. Nilsson’s lead work here is incredible as you might expect, as he is one of the most talented guitarists in modern metal.
The Poisonous Seed is a high-octane speedy modern power metal gem with Lingvall’s incredibly fast double bass drum footwork and technical expertise. As usual Lindqvist’s vocals add the melody to a pretty brutal song with some modern sonic elements added to great effect. The mid-tempo Repent My Sins has a heavy swagger with a powerful bridge and chorus using Jonny Lindqvist’s vocal prowess to its full capability.
What’s Killing Me is a groove-heavy song with a deliberate pace and a fantastic chorus. A Song For You is another mid-tempo metal track with symphonic elements, heavy guitar rhythms, and of course, that voice carrying the songs main melody.
Things get really heavy on The Ghost Inside Of Me, a song that has it all, brutally heavy riffs, hammering drums, symphonic strings, and an incredible uplifting chorus. Nothing Can Break Me shows that the band isn’t afraid to use modern metal elements within their songwriting to add a spin on the usually formulaic power metal genre. The verses rock with urgency and the chorus soars with a beautiful intensity. The use of vocal harmonies here takes the song to another level.
Things slow down a touch on the quasi-ballad Flames, a powerful and emotive performance from Jonny Lindqvist here adds the perfect touch from one of the best and most underrated vocalists in the metal genre. The crushing modern power metal sound comes spending back like a runaway freight train on Used To Be God, featuring, in my opinion, the best chorus on the album , which is no small feat considering every song on here is a winner.
The albums closing song, the appropriately titled Welcome To The End, is another fast paced, driving power metal track with intense drumwork, symphonic elements, powerful and gritty melodic vocals, and chugging guitar rhythms and a perfect way to close the album. If I can use a worn out adage, this Phoenix has raised Nocturnal Rites from the ashes and straight to the top of the melodic metal world with an album that has to be in consideration for comeback of the year.