NOCTURNAL RITES
Power Metal / Death Metal / Traditional heavy metal • Sweden

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Nocturnal Rites is a Swedish power metal band formed in 1994, Umeå/Holmsund. So far they've released 7 studio albums.

Their first three albums ('In a Time of Blood and Fire', 'Tales of Mystery and Imagination' and 'The Sacred Talisman') feature the former vocalist Anders Zackrisson, while the newer albums are sung by Johnny Lindkvist. Also the musical style has changed a bit during the years; some demo's were something more like death metal, but then the three first cd releases pure melodic power metal, and on "Afterlife" they took a bit heavier approach with influences of true heavy metal like Masterplan and Dream Evil and even some thrash metal riffs, though the melodic choruses were kept right in the core of the songs.

They have released a few more albums since, with the latest ones being 'Grand Illusion' that came in 2005 and '8th Sin' that came out in
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PhoenixPhoenix
Import
Afm Records 2017
Audio CD$12.99
New World MessiahNew World Messiah
Century Media 2004
Audio CD$21.95 (used)
Grand IllusionGrand Illusion
Import
Imports 2008
Audio CD$9.99
$15.11 (used)
PhoenixPhoenix
Import · Limited Edition
Afm Records 2017
Vinyl$24.98
Sacred TalismanSacred Talisman
CD-ROM
Century Media 1999
Audio CD$7.57 (used)
AfterlifeAfterlife
Century Media 2000
Audio CD$44.95
$48.93 (used)
PhoenixPhoenix
Import
Imports 2017
Audio CD$37.99
8th Sin8th Sin
Import
EMI Europe Generic 2007
Audio CD$5.04 (used)
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NOCTURNAL RITES Discography

NOCTURNAL RITES albums / top albums

.. Album Cover 3.39 | 4 ratings
In a Time of Blood and Fire
Power Metal 1995
.. Album Cover 3.91 | 4 ratings
Tales of Mystery and Imagination
Power Metal 1998
.. Album Cover 3.54 | 5 ratings
The Sacred Talisman
Power Metal 1999
.. Album Cover 4.07 | 3 ratings
Afterlife
Power Metal 2000
.. Album Cover 3.75 | 6 ratings
Shadowland
Power Metal 2002
.. Album Cover 4.23 | 5 ratings
New World Messiah
Power Metal 2004
.. Album Cover 4.03 | 5 ratings
Grand Illusion
Power Metal 2005
.. Album Cover 3.05 | 4 ratings
The 8th Sin
Power Metal 2007
.. Album Cover 3.00 | 1 ratings
Phoenix
Traditional heavy metal 2017

NOCTURNAL RITES EPs & splits

NOCTURNAL RITES live albums

NOCTURNAL RITES demos, promos, fans club and other releases (no bootlegs)

.. Album Cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Demo 1
Death Metal 1991
.. Album Cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Rehearsal Tape 1992
Death Metal 1992
.. Album Cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Promo 1992
Death Metal 1992
.. Album Cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Promo 1993
Death Metal 1993

NOCTURNAL RITES re-issues & compilations

.. Album Cover 3.00 | 1 ratings
Lost in Time: The Early Years of Nocturnal Rites
Power Metal 2005

NOCTURNAL RITES singles (2)

.. Album Cover
0.00 | 0 ratings
Fools Never Die
Power Metal 2005
.. Album Cover
0.00 | 0 ratings
Never Again
Power Metal 2007

NOCTURNAL RITES movies (DVD, Blu-Ray or VHS)

NOCTURNAL RITES Reviews

NOCTURNAL RITES Phoenix

Album · 2017 · Traditional heavy metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
DippoMagoo
Sometimes a band will release an album that at the time upsets their fans so much they want nothing to do with the band anymore, only for those same people to end up badly missing the band over time, hoping desperately that they will one day return with a triumphant comeback album. The latest band to fit into this description is Swedish power metal band Nocturnal Rites, who I was introduced to with their 2007 release, The 8th Sin, an album I actually enjoyed, but many of their longtime fan loathed it and criticized the band for falling into a more commercialized sound. After the release of that album, the band went quiet for several years, making fans think that could be the end. But now in 2017, they have finally returned, ready to release their ninth full-length album, Phoenix, but can they rise from the ashes, or should they have just stayed buried? I’ll go into full details below, but suffice to say, there isn’t a really clear cut answer for that one.

Nocturnal Rites actually started out as a death metal band in their very early days, releasing a couple of demos in that style before changing to a classic power metal sound with their full-length debut, In a Time of Blood and Fire, and they stuck with that sound for three albums, until current singer Jonny Lindqvist joined the band for their 2001 release, Afterlife, and they switched to a more aggressive, somewhat thrashy power metal sound. That album had a fairly mixed reception, but I personally consider it to be one of their best, but again they switched to a more melodic sound for their next few albums, with their 2004 release New World Messiah, in particular, standing out as a career high point. But again, they changed their sound in 2007 for The 8th Sin and that’s when everything seemed to come apart, as while the album still had some power metal elements, it had a much more modernized, very commercial sound that upset a lot of fans and while the songwriting was fun and catchy, it’s not hard to see why many folks felt betrayed by the band.

Which brings us to Phoenix, an album that largely continues with the more modern sound of The 8th Sin, but it comes across as a bit more metal sounding and does have small traces of their old sound. The band went through a couple different lead guitarists in between albums, before bringing in Per Nilsson, best known for his work with melodic death metal band Scar Symmetry. As soon as I heard he was brought into the band I was very interested in hearing what Phoenix would sound like, as while he’s an excellent guitarist, I wasn’t sure if his style would fit this particular band very well. It turns out, I was right to be concerned, because while he certainly does some great work on this album, including some incredible solos, there are many points where he resorts to modern sounding chugs which would fit in great with a band like Scar Symmetry, but they really feel out of place on a Nocturnal Rites album, and bring some of the tracks down.

Stylistically, Phoenix is a very modern sounding album, and I’d describe it more as melodic metal than anything else, as most of the tracks are slow to mid paced, and rely on huge vocal melodies above everything else. The chugs mostly come in quick bursts and most songs are fairly laid back throughout, with occasional heavy sections and bursts of speed, to remind fans they are listening to a metal album, but it’s clear the band has settled into a much more accessible, more radio friendly sound. There’s definitely still traces of power metal left in the music, and I generally find the heavier, speedier sections to be the highlights of the album, but the majority of the time the music is fairly slow paced and very melodic, just as the three pre-release singles would suggest.

I mentioned that the vocals were a huge focus on this album, so obviously the band requires a great singer, and thankfully they have one in Jonny Lindqvist. He has a rather animated voice that I’d describe as an odd sounding mix between Tobias Sammet and Chris Jericho (seriously, that may sound like a bizarre combination, but that’s what I think of every time I hear him,) and he does an excellent job of carrying some of the less interesting songs on the album. He may not be the best singer technically, but what he really excels at is singing with emotion. He always sounds very energetic in his delivery and it’s always easy to tell he’s very passionate about the lyrics, as he puts a ton of emotion into everything he sings, and he is definitely the band’s biggest asset at this point.

With the most positive aspect of the album out of the way, unfortunately, it’s time for a more problematic area, that being the songwriting. Things get off to a rocky start with “A Heart as Black as Coal”, a slow paced slog of a track which has some ugly modern sounding chugs throughout the verses, as well as vocal melodies that give it a strong pop feel, kinda like “Never Again” from The 8th Sin, except that while its chorus is decent, it’s nowhere near as fun or catchy as that song was, instead just kinda feeling like it exists and not doing anything beyond that. The track does have an excellent solo from Per, but that’s the one highlight on an otherwise forgettable track, and one I definitely don’t think works well as either a single to sell an album or as an opening track. Next is the first single, “Before We Waste Away”, another slow paced track, though it has some great melodies throughout and effectively builds to an excellent chorus that instantly got me excited for the album the first time I heard it. Again, Per delivers an excellent solo in the middle and overall this track is a great single and one that really set my expectations high for the album, so it’s a bit of a shame the entire album isn’t on the same level. The third, and so far last, single is “Repent My Sins” another slower track, but again it has some nice melodies and a very passionate vocal performance from Jonny, so while it doesn’t quite hit me as hard as “Before We Waste Away” it’s a pretty great track on its own.

In between that two track is “The Poisonous Seed”, the first real heavy track on the album, and one that offers brief glimpses of the band’s power metal roots. This track has some heavy riffs throughout and has a very dark feel, as well as feeling like a modernized take on their power metal sound, being much harder hitting than anything on The 8th Sin, while still sounding far more modern than any of their prior albums. It also has some light symphonic elements, which are used on a couple other tracks for some extra flavor, and it’s an all around excellent track, where Per really gets to shine with some great riffs and an excellent solo. I kinda wish there were more tracks like this on the album, as his style fits a heavier track like this perfectly, where on some of the slower tracks his chugs just don’t quite feel right. The only other consistently fast songs on the album are the closing track “Welcome to the End” and the bonus track “Used to Be God”. Out of those two, “Welcome to the End” is a very fast, heavy track which effectively uses some symphonic elements, and is definitely a highlight, but “Used to Be God” is actually even better, as it has by far the best riffs on the album, as well as an excellent solo section and an incredible chorus. However, I can see why they chose to make it a bonus track, as it has a thrashy sound to it which doesn’t quite fit the tone of the album on the whole, so if anything it just makes me even more disappointed about the direction they chose to go with many songs on the album, as I’d definitely be excited to hear the band do a full album in the style of this song and “Welcome to the End”, yet I realize that’s totally not what they were going for overall, so it’s obvious me and the band are not on the same page.

In between those tracks and “Repent My Sins”, we get a bunch of tracks that are solid but none of them do a whole lot for me, and they mostly blend together to just become forgettable. Tracks like “A Song For You” and “The Ghost Inside Me” do a nice job of mixing brief faster sections with mid paced verses and solid choruses, but neither track blows me away, while slower tracks like “What’s Killing Me” and “Nothing Can Break Me” feel like weaker versions of tracks from The 8th Sin, with the latter in particular having some modern sounding keys which are oddly distracting and give the track a slight pop feel. Lastly, we have “Flames”, a decent ballad where Jonny delivers some excellent vocals, but musically the track just does nothing for me at all. It has a nice chorus, but throughout the rest of the song, I just get bored, as the symphonic elements and vocals are far more interesting than the basic chugs and anything else that’s going on. Another track where Per doesn’t really fit in for me.

Overall, Phoenix is a pretty frustrating release for me, as there are brief moments where it teases at a modernized power metal sound that I could see working out great for the band, but there are far too many slower tracks where Per Nillson’s chugs don’t really fit the sound, and if not for Jonny’s excellent vocals, I’d probably be getting bored to death. For fans of Nocturnal Rites, this album is tough to judge, as it does have a few excellent tracks that feel fresh enough to stand out, while having some familiar elements, but anyone disappointed with The 8th Sin will also likely struggle with many of the lighter tracks on this album, and I don’t expect many pure power metal fans to be too thrilled, either. Fans of melodic metal who look for excellent vocals and melodies above all else are recommended to give this album a listen, and anyone else should try the singles to see if they have any interest, but again I have to point out for power metal fans, that all three of the tracks most likely to impress is hidden away, with one of them even being a bonus track. For me, personally, Phoenix is a solid album, maybe slightly behind The 8th Sin, but it definitely doesn’t come close to the band’s best works. So, it’s not a total disappointment, but it’s also not really the triumphant return I was hoping for, either. It just kinda exists.

originally written for myglobalmind.com: https://myglobalmind.com/2017/09/09/nocturnal-rites-phoenix-review/

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