NorthTale – Welcome To Paradise
Are you worried about the dying art of Power Metal? Well I am or at least I was before NorthTale entered my life. Small flashback here might be in order. Power Metal as a genre has always been very close to my heart for obvious reasons but it literally feels like an eternity without anything “mindblowing” to enter the scene. Things that Helloween did with their Keeper Of The Seven Keys Part I & II, Stratovarius with their insane productions with Episode, Visions and Destiny and last but definately not least what HammerFall did in the 90’s with their own approach. I personally would define those 3 bands as something holy for this genre I love so much.
There has been numerous of bands since then trying to mimic and re-create what those 3 bands did and with quite poor results. And the question should be, could it have been anything but bad results? One simply just can’t re-create something that has been defining a whole genre of Power Metal. Either there has been too obvious mimicing or too little. So some months ago when I got the press release from Nuclear Blast regarding a band called NorthTale I must say I felt sceptic to say the least.
And their approach was extremely bold. In the words of NorthTale composer and guitarist Bill Hudson, “We want to bring back the amazing golden years of Power Metal. Like in the late 90s, when STRATOVARIUS, HELLOWEEN, HAMMERFALL and all those bands were at their peak! Those bands, alongside with IRON MAIDEN, JUDAS PRIEST have been inspiring me to write music my whole life“.
With those words in mind NorthTale either knew what they were talking about or simply wanted to use it as a slogan to attract more people. After listening their album I can safely say “they definately knew what they were talking about” I want to review this album more through emotions it raised in me rather than going through song by song but I will say you this: there are no bad tracks on this album.
Special mention goes to the song Higher, you can check the lyric video below. The beginning of the song takes me back to the happy moments of Helloween when they made songs like Rise And Fall and Dr. Stein that were purely entertaining. This song brought a wide smile on my face the moment it started.
Album opener Welcome To Paradise has so many elements from Stratovarius, Helloween and HammerFall that I feel that it was the obvious choice to bring their point very clear. Now I want everyone to keep in mind that NorthTale very openly admitted what their point was: “to bring back the amazing golden years of Power Metal“. I still very much feel although the vibes are very StratoHelloFall-orientated this band still has made these songs to represent their vision how Power Metal should be in 2019 and not just trying to make it sound like those bands mentioned earlier.
Every Stratovarius fan remembers how mezmerizing it was to hear back in the day when Timo Tolkki and Jens Johansson played together those intense and difficult solos and you know what? Bill Hudson and Jimmy Pitts performs those similar solos just as well. I have known Bill Hudson to be an amazing guitarist but Jimmy Pitts was new to me but they have so much similarity on how they play together that I just might call them the Timo and Jens of modern day.
The Rhythm of Life and Time to Rise are the songs for the HammerFall fans. If I would have to pick which singer Christian Eriksson would resemble the most I would go with Joacim Cans of HammerFall. No need really to try and even compare any singer to Michael Kiske cause quite frankly there is only one.
Everyone’s a Star gets a special mentioning for it’s lyrics. At the same time hilarious but also if you really listen to the lyrics it’s just about how fake everything in the world is and how important appearance and how you represent yourself to the public is to some people. Doesn’t matter what’s the truth as long as everything looks sharp on the outside. Now obviously this is just my interpretation of the lyrics without really knowing the meaning behind them.
Also one very important thing when you write a Power Metal album is that if your songs are pretty straight forward they simply can’t be too long and NorthTale has understood this perfectly. Shortest song on the album is 3:29 and longest 4:47 so the whole album goes by pretty fast while you enjoy the massive wall of heavy double bass drums, infernal guitar and keyboard solos, melodic choruses and everything that makes this album so great.
NorthTale shows that Power Metal can still be made and be taken seriously in 2019. It didn’t end with golden age of Stratovarius, Helloween and HammerFall.
I will sum up this review just by saying humble thank you for Bill Hudson, Christian Eriksson, Patrick Johansson, Mikael Planefeldt and Jimmy Pitts aka NorthTale for restoring my faith towards the genre I had laid to rest already long ago.