Nocturnal Rites

The 8th Sin

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Just in case you happened to lose count, Nocturnal Rites helpfully named the eighth album of their near-two-decade career The 8th Sin, as if their resilience over so many years and releases were a true badge of a honor, defying any less faithful, enduring, or fair-weather power metal bands out there. More importantly, they put their money where their pride is by delivering one of their best sets of economical power metal yet. Heck, perfectly coiffed singles like "Call out to the World," "Never Again," "Tell Me" and "Leave Me Alone" positively confirm their status as the Bon Jovi of Swedish power metal -- simply imagine the New Jersey bunch with Yngwie Malmsteen on guitar, and you won't be far off the mark. That relative economy does give way to a few small embellishments like the layered synthesizers of "Not the Only," and even a few shocking techno accents on "Strong Enough," but thanks to the gritty honesty of Jonny Lindkvist's vocals, Nocturnal Rites generally sidestep the trying, hopeless pomposity displayed by much of their Euro-metal brethren. OK, they do succumb to it just a little on the Baroque dramatics of "Till I Come Alive" and, depending on one's point of view, the stark of sound and name "Me" (comprised merely of vocals and piano), but both of these are just exceptions, not the rule. And in a genre uniformly blessed and cursed with wild excess, its Nocturnal Rites' ability to exert some measure of control and songwriting focus which sets them apart, paving the way for many more albums and years yet to come. [A Japanese version was released with a bonus track.]

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