Nocturnal Rites - 'Phoenix'

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Nocturnal Rites - 'Phoenix'

Dare I say it... Album Of The Year for me? It just might be.

In mythology, the phoenix burnt itself upon a funeral pyre after six centuries of life in the Arabian desert, only to rise from its ashes with renewed youth. Sweden's Nocturnal Rites, much like the phoenix, have risen from the ashes of a slew of lacklustre releases, personnel changes and sheer ring-rust. Ten years on from the underwhelming 'The 8th Sin', they now bring with them a masterful recording sparkling with renewed youth in the shape of the aptly-named 'Phoenix'.

2017, to this point, has been a year of renaissance for Power Metal, a year which has so far seen outstanding releases from seasoned veterans such as Alestorm, Edguy and DragonForce, and yet in 'Phoenix', Nocturnal Rites have presented us with a carefully constructed collection of balls-to-the-wall Power Metal built on its traditional values but painted in a shade of modernistic quality, refusing to fall in to the all-too-easy trap of sounding far too much like you're stuck in the eighties hey-day.

Firing on all cylinders from the very beginning, 'Phoenix' ebbs and flows fast and furiously, the pace never dropping, but the structures fluctuating accordingly throughout, providing you with all the sing-alongs, head-bangs, moshing and genuine passion a Power Metal album should bring.

'Before We Waste Away' bursts into colourful flame-like riffs which come off more like battle calls then musical movements, before the Avantasia-aping chorus kicks in and leaves you singing your heart out in your living room – with your headphones in whilst your family watch the soaps. Yes, they're making powerful Power Metal, it's never felt more right.

With each song comes the fear that the 'Phoenix' will burn out and the flame disappear, and yet that moment never comes. It isn't often I'm lost with finding a flaw for a record but here I simply cannot.

'Phoenix' doesn't add anything new to the genre but it doesn't have to. What it does add is an album you could hand to a kid asking what Power Metal is and be confident that it'll start their journey in this genre on the right path. It's got grandiose epic moments ('The Ghost Inside Me'), goliath-sized choruses ('What's Killing Me') and solos that'll slay you into a different century (every single song on the album).

Dare I say it... Album Of The Year for me? It just might be.

Jack Press

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