NOCTURNAL RITES – Phoenix [Japan Edition] (2017)

NOCTURNAL RITES - Phoenix [Japan Edition] (2017) full

A decade. That’s how long it’s been since we last had a new NOCTURNAL RITES album. And given guitarist Chris Rorland’s departure for Sabaton a few years back and a silent Facebook page, most people just assumed Nocturnal Rites was done. But the Swedish band is back 2017 with a new album aptly titled “Phoenix“, to be released next September 29.
This Japanese Edition (apart from the European Digipak-only track ‘Used To Be God’) includes the exclusive Asian bonus track ‘Before I Go’.

If you are new to Nocturnal Rites, they released 8 albums between 1995 and 2007 mixing power metal and melodies. However, if you are familiar with them, there’s something you need to know as well… Nocturnal Rites is not power metal anymore.
“Phoenix” is not only the band’s new album in ten years, but the raise of a new Nocturnal Rites.

Indeed, this Nocturnal Rites has more in common with edgy melodic hard rock than anything else. There’s some few traces of their forner genre in a couple of tracks, but very light.
Stylistically, “Phoenix” is a very modern sounding album, and I’d describe it as melodic metal / edgy hard rock, as most of the tracks are slow to midpaced and rely on huge vocal melodies.
Think Tobias Sammet / Avantasia, Serious Black, Mean Streak, Phantom 5, Pretty Maids, some Allen / Lande, but even more catchy.

NOCTURNAL RITES - Phoenix [Japan Edition] (2017) disc

It’s clear the band has settled into a much more accessible, radio friendly sound. Just listen to the extremely melodious ‘Before We Waste Away’, the catchy ‘A Heart As Black As Coal’, ‘Repent My Sins’, and the almost ballad-esque ‘A Song for You’.
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 and he does an excellent job carrying the harmonies. He may not be the best singer technically, but what he really excels at is singing with emotion.

Still, there’s chunky riffs on numbers like the massive ‘What’s Killing Me’ or the relentlessly heavy ‘The Ghost Inside Me’ including razor and sharp guitars, but all smoothed by synths and melodious arrangements.
You have extremely polished, 12 solid songs on this “Phoenix” Japan version, a very well mixed and produced record.

NOCTURNAL RITES - Phoenix [Japan Edition] (2017) back

It’s almost unheard of for an album to be worth a ten-year wait, but “Phoenix” is just that. Nocturnal Rites couldn’t have picked a more triumphant way to herald their return, at least for fans of melodic and catchy metal.
As said, if you are new to the band and research for some Nocturnal Rites info, don’t be fooled by the ‘power metal’ tag.
This new 2017 version of Nocturnal Rites is a different beast, and a darn catchy, melodic, chorus / harmony fueled.
Highly Recommended

01 – A Heart As Black As Coal
02 – Before We Waste Away
03 – The Poisonous Seed
04 – Repent My Sins
05 – What’s Killing Me
06 – A Song For You
07 – The Ghost Inside Me
08 – Nothing Can Break Me
09 – Flames
10 – Used To Be God
11 – Welcome To The End
12 – Before I Go (Japan Bonus Track)

Jonny Lindqvist – Vocals (ex-Arrows, ex-Mogg)
Nils Eriksson – Bass (ex-Guillotine)
Fredrik Mannberg – Guitars (Persuader, ex-Guillotine)
Owe Lingvall – Drums (ex-Jonny’s Bomb)
Per Nilsson – Guitars (Scar Symmetry, ex-The Storyteller)


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