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REVIEW: Nocturnal Rites - Grand Illusion Century Media, 2005
8.5/10
Nocturnal Rites - Grand Illusion - cover art Even though Nocturnal Rites spent five years in the underground before debuting with "In A Time Of Blood And Fire" in 1995 they have been highly productive and "Grand Illusion" marks their 7th full-length release. They have toured Japan and Europe, played major festivals such as Dynamo, Wacken and Sweden Rock but are still awaiting the big break. Whether their latest offering will take them to those heights that every band dream of, no matter if they admit it or not, is hard to say but it is a very impressive album that follows as a logical continuation to 2004's "New World Messiah" without copying themselves. In the oversaturated genre known as power metal, these Swedes and Umeć natives stick out from the masses and every new album has been characterized by its own personality. This time the song writing has taken a slightly different approach, resulting in perhaps the slowest and heaviest album so far in the band's career.

"Grand Illusion" opens up with the commercially most passable song of the album - "Fools Never Die" - which comes with memorable vocal lines as as well as interesting riffs and has also been turned into a video. This video will be included on the limited bonus DVD together with the three videos from "New World Messiah", a "Making Of Grand Illusion" and behind the scenes footage from their performance at "Demons At The Opera" (a show in their hometown where they performed with a 55-piece orchestra). "Never Trust" is not as catchy as the opening track but it features solo work from Hammerfall's guitar wiz Stefan Elmgren. "Still Alive" will make everyone realize the enormous capacity of singer Jonny Lindqvist. Their former frontman Anders Zackrisson was not bad at all but Jonny's amazing voice has certainly helped bringing the band to where they are now.

Nocturnal Rites always look forward but as we all know the past should never be forgotten and many old-schoolers will hopefully appreciate the Iron Maiden leanings of "Our Wasted Days". Power metal is generally upbeat and jolly but happiness seems very far away in "Cuts Like A Knife", a dark and sinister tale where Jonny once again displays his versatility as a singer. A few more anonymous songs then follow before the muscular closer "Deliverance", a powerful and bombastic piece that should definitely become one of the two further videos planned for this album. Stefan Elmgren aside there are no less than four additional guests performing on "Grand Illusion" - Jens Johansson (Stratovarius) on keyboards, Henrik Danhage (Evergrey) on guitars, Kristoffer W. Olivius (Naglfar) and, lo and behold, the Swedish world champion of cross-country skiing Per Elofsson on guitars.

With "Grand Illusion", Nocturnal Rites have released one of the most interesting and melodic power metal albums of 2005 and if you get the chance to catch them on their upcoming European tour in support of Gamma Ray don't miss out on it because they are a wonderful live act as well. I've been lucky enought to see them twice this year and they do not let anyone down. There are moments when they seem to fall into the same rhythm patterns but overall "Grand Illusion" is a solid release that will satisfy old fans of the band as well as attract new ones. There are also a couple of songs bearing hit potential and did I mention Jonny's voice?

written by Vincent Eldefors

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» Nocturnal Rites band details
Tracklist
1. Fools Never Die
2. Never Trust
3. Still Alive
4. Something Undefined
5. Our Wasted Days
6. Cuts Like A Knife
7. End Of Our Rope
8. Never Ending
9. One By One
10. Deliverance

Playing time: 46.38

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