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Nocturnal Rites: Phoenix
Nocturnal Rites - Phoenix CD Album Review

Nocturnal Rites: Phoenix

Melodic/Heavy/Power Metal
3.5/5.0

Once more we look into the "missing in action" folder of the heavy metal filing cabinet, where we find Nocturnal Rites. The last we heard from the seminal Swedish power metal band was their eighth studio album, The Eighth Sin. Where have they been? Beats me. Excepting the addition of new lead guitarist Per Nilsson (Hagen, Scar Symmetry, Zierler), the personnel from that album, and going back to 2000, remains intact. Nocturnal Rites returns with aptly titled ninth album Phoenix.

Nocturnal Rites - Phoenix Band Photo

Nocturnal Rites

To say, musically speaking, that nothing much has changed for Nocturnal Rites is not to diminish this latest album. The band still plays heavier melodic power metal. The usual musical suspects complete the Nocturnal Rites sound: large, brisk, and heavy riffage, bold and blistering solos, a sturdy and pummeling rhythm section, and Jonny Lindqvist's bit raw, tad raspy, quite assertive, yet melodic vocals. These things are preeminent in the arrangements, yet Nocturnal Rites still works in enough melody, harmony, and groove to make the heaviness both palatable and accessible. They even add some synth symphonic embellishment to deepen and thicken the song arrangements.

While all this seems usual and consistent for Nocturnal Rites, alternatively it makes everything about Phoenix sound redundant and predictable. In other words, from start to finish there's little variation to the songs. Mostly I found myself listening for the songs that had better groove, such as Repent My Sins or Before We Waste Away (my top picks), and then the final guitar solo(s) that fill every song. Perhaps repeated multiple spins may offer more and additional nuances. Or not. I think the best discernment of the success or significance of current Nocturnal Rites and Phoenix will come from their long time fans, if they're still around.



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The Bottom Line

Phoenix finds Nocturnal Rites, AWOL for ten years, returning with their tried and true heavier melodic power metal.

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