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Let me start this review by asking one question. Why? Why did you make us wait ten years? The release of the new album “PHOENIX”  heralds the triumphant return of Swedish melodic metal masters NOCTURNAL RITES.  Ten years have passed since the release of the band’s last album The 8th Sin and the band has returned with a vengeance to produce arguably the best album of their career.  All the best elements of melodic power metal are contained within this album from the diverse vocals of JONNY LINDQVIST, the excellent guitar work of newcomer PERS NILSSON(Lead Guitar) and FREDRICK MANNBERG(Rhythm Guitar) with NILS ERICKSON(Bass)and OWE LINDVALL(Drums) providing the band with a watertight rhythm section.

“I think Phoenix somehow combines the aggressive approach of Afterlife with the very melodic stuff of “The 8th Sin” and at the same time adds a few new orchestral and epic elements to the mix.” Bass Player Nils Eriksson said when talking about the new album and I have to agree.

The opening track “A Heart As Black As Coal” introduces us to the new line up with Pers Nilsson replacing CHRIS RORLAND (SABATON) on lead guitar highlighting the melodic heart of this band. “Before We Waste Away” sees the Nocturnal Rites rhythm section consisting of Nils Eriksson and Owe Lingvall  lock in together to drive this song while the chorus is one that you will not be able to get out of your head.

From the first note on “Repent My Sins” the guitar of Per Nilsson takes us on a journey into the beauty of restraint. The guitar work and melodic solos on this song demonstrate the maturity and confidence of a guitarist who knows when not to overplay. “The Ghost Inside me” sees the band find their aggression building to a climatic chorus which includes an orchestra and choir adding, even more, layers to the already full sound. In a contrast to “Repent My Sin”’ the two guitarists Per Nilsson and Fredrick Mannberg use this song to showcase their abilities to the full.

I have always thought that you know a great album when you find yourself walking around humming a vocal line or guitar riff that no matter how hard you try it just won’t leave your head. If I am to hold this album to that standard then it is on the top shelf as these songs swirled around in my head distracting me to the point of insanity.  For the old fans that have waited ten years and the new ones that will discover Nocturnal Rites through this album all I have to say is don’t make us wait another ten years for the next one.

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