Let’s just start with making one thing clear: I am NOT a fan of power metal.
And the NorthTale debut album is A LOT about classic power metal.
But – not ALL about it. And it’s hard to deny that the songs (yes, even the most power metal ones) are all well written. And it’s also obvious that there is a lot of talent in this international constellation with Christian Eriksson on vocals, Bill Hudson on guitars, bass player Mikael Planefeldt, drummer Patrick Johansson and Jimmy Pitts on keyboards.
The opening song, which is also the title track, ”Welcome To Paradise” sets the tone right away – this is a freak show rollercoaster ride on the border of madness, with pumping drums, a solid base and frenetically intense guitars. On top of that there are keyboards that create atmosphere (and also provide lovely little sound effects here and there, which is absolutely brilliant) – and well, Christian Eriksson IS a brilliant singer, there is no doubt about that.
There is also no doubt that there are a lot of messages to be found if one listens to the lyrics. Such as ”Never doubt who you are”, ”Shape your reality”, ”Create your future now”, and so on – and that is one thing that is great with this album.
And speaking of love. There is this song, the sixth one, the ballad ”Way Of The Light”. This is not only words put together with added music, but music and words with meaning, entwined and belonging together. And the vocals are just flooded with feeling and it goes straight to the heart and soul and every nerve and brings out the tears.
And while being in this emotional state, suddenly the brutal awakening comes with ”Shape Your Reality”. A little too brutal, but hey, contrasts are good. And the song is actually not bad, there is great energy in combination with power and depth. It is just that it follows straight after being hit by all those emotions. The guitars are amazing in this one, though – especially when building this powerful musical unity together with the keyboards and drums.
That unity, completed with the bass, also truly shines in songs like ”The Rhythm of Life”, ”Siren’s Fall” and ”Bring Down the Mountain”. And in combination with the vocals, it all just makes sense and all fits like a glove. And the gentle but yet magnificent ending with the beautiful ”Even When” that is just so… breathtaking.
All in all, this is a very solid first album, with great songs and a lot of choruses that get stuck in your mind, with happy harmonies in combination with thoughtfulness and intensity. And everything is well performed by musicians who know and love what they are doing, it just all shines through.
(It’s just too much power metal.)
Title: Welcome to Paradise
Label: Nuclear Blast
Date of release: 2/8-19
Stand out tracks: Way of the Light, Siren’s Fall, Even When