|Release Date||2 August 2019|
|Record Label||Nuclear Blast|
Formed by legendary power metal vocalist Christian Eriksson (ex-Twilight Force), guitarist Bill Hudson (ex-U.D.O., ex-Power Quest), and drummer Patrick Johansson (ex-Yngwie J. Malmsteen), the Swedish-American supergroup NorthTale is finally ready to be heard by the masses. Their debut record, the aptly-named Welcome to Paradise, is a paradise for all fans of late 90s/early 00s power metal.
To be completely honest, I was skeptical of Welcome to Paradise when it was announced. After all, it’s always a bit pretentious when a new project comes along claiming they’re going to “bring back the glory days”, but believe me when I say that NorthTale fucking deliver on this promise; the arrangements are fast, the solos are long, the soaring vocals are powerful, the mood is sickeningly sweet, and everything is wrapped up in a nice, fresh package that both oozes a golden-era-power-metal feel while also bringing something that’s new, exciting, and relistenable.
There are obviously a few straight, double-time power metal bangers on this record, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t more to hear. Some of the tracks, such as ‘Bring Down the Mountain’ and ‘Everyone’s a Star’, seem to be tributes to rock/metal greats (the former’s verses are almost too close to Judas Priest’s ‘All Guns Blazing’, and the latter’s chorus is very similar to a few of Bon Jovi’s hooks). There are also the obligatory slow tunes, ‘Way of the Light’ and ‘Even When’, which both offer beauty in different forms, and ‘Playing with Fire’ brings some darker, heavier elements to the show.
As far as my favourites go, I have a few. The first thing that comes to mind is the chorus of ‘Higher’, which might be the best fucking chorus I’ve heard all year, as well as some killer neoclassical licks in the solo section. I also absolutely love Christian’s vocals, as well as every other crazy, shredding guitar and key solo on the record, so, you know, there’s that. And, of course, I welcome all of the tongue-in-cheek lyrics that come every now and then.
I really tried to not give this album a 10. After all, it’s only August and I’ve already given out two others this year. However, it’s not my fault that so much good music has come out this year. In the case of this album, everything is perfect to me. The runtime is a bit longer than your typical metal album, but that’s a great thing when every song on an album is excellent. Plus, aside from everything else I mentioned before, the drumming is colourful and the bass even gets to shine a couple times, like in ‘Follow Me’. The whole band really couldn’t have played any better and the songwriting allows for power metal of the most elite form.
I find it amusing that Welcome to Paradise, despite the boundless positive energy and motivational messages it conveys, seems to be a big “fuck you” (in the nicest of ways, of course) from NorthTale to the power metal world, as if saying, “Step aside; we’re the kings now.” Needless to say, in my own humble opinion, I fully agree, because this record blew my fucking face off.
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