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Northtale - Eternal Flame Award winner

Northtale
Eternal Flame
by Kevin Lewis at 12 December 2021, 11:51 AM

Multi-national Power Metal supergroup NORTHTALE is a truly eclectic experience. Bill Hudson has worked with some incredible groups in the past, including U.D.O., DORO and TSO, to name but a few. Influenced by the early power metal greats like HELLOWEEN, STRATOVARIUS and early ANGRA, the band is heavy and technically precise, using epic lyrics with layered vocals and very fast guitars/rhythms, punctuated by incredible drumming. “Eternal Flame,” their sophomore effort, was released November 12, 2021, via Nuclear Blast Records.

The record begins with a rapid-fire drum intro followed by a real guitar riff, ending with some quick flair work. The voice comes in clean and higher in pitch. It will drop and then rise again. This is power metal vocals like you expect to hear them. The bass and drums are non-stop. It’s hard to believe the song is “Only Human” considering they sound machine-like in speed and accuracy. Okay, so that was a dad-joke, but this is a serious band with a lot of talent on display from the very start.

Wings Of Salvation” comes next and runs for over seven and a half minutes. This is the song that truly begins the epic journey the hero will take through the course of this record. Everything about the song is uplifting and meant to inspire awe and wonder what is about to take place, but beware, no journey can be all smooth sailing and we know something will challenge our hero later on. The ballad-like section in the middle is a nice respite before going to battle.

Track four, “North Tale - Eternal Flame - The Land of Mystic Rites,” has an Arabesque/Tribal feel to the intro. Adding this into the mix makes this tale feel more global, not just a trip down the street or around the corner. This is well placed and well done. The song shifts from the tribal to the power metal-based rhythm that you expect from this band. The change is welcome and executed flawlessly.

Moving down the tracks, we get to “In the Name Of God.” This is why so many epic journeys and tales have started, to spread the gospel and bring the heathens to salvation. Many wars have been fought for religion. The symbolic war in this song is fought between the guitars and keyboards, which makes for two incredible solos. Symbolism set to music is a beautiful thing.

The interesting song choice on this record is the IRON MAIDEN cover of “Judas Be My Guide.” The layered vocals beef up this version, but it takes that to convey the power required pull off following the legendary Bruce Dickinson. They do a really nice job making the song recognizable, yet their own.

The last lyric song is the 11:24 “Nature’s Revenge,” the epic end of the story. The intro is mid-tempo and upbeat, alluding to the glory of a victorious return for the hero. The song shifts from medium to heavy and back again. The guitars are frenetic, the rhythm is frantic. The guitar fills interspersed throughout are precisely placed and add a lot of planned chaos to the track. Done with great effect, the overall song is a complex beauty that really wraps up all the various elements present on this record. The record ends with a five instrumental recap of the action called “Ivy.”

This is a record worthy of inclusion into the halls of Power Metal. The technical wizardry of the instruments, the soaring vocals, the backing harmonies and the thematic repetitions that carry story from start to finish are amazing. There are delicate moments, especially at the end. There was brutality, portrayed by blazing instrumentation. Highs, low and an epic conclusion shape this record as one of the better discs of the year.

Songwriting:  9
Musicianship:  9
Memorability:  8
Production:  9


4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Only Human
2. Wings of Salvation
3. Future Calls
4. North Tale - Eternal Flame - The Land of Mystic Rites
5. Midnight Bells
6. Eternal Flame
7. In the Name of God
8. Ride the Storm
9. King of Your Illusion
10. Judas Be My Guide
11. Nature's Revenge
12. Ivy
Lineup:
Guilherme Hirose – Vocals
Mikael Planefeldt – Bass
Patrick Johansson – Drums
Bill Hudson – Guitar
Jimmy Pitts – Keyboards
Record Label: Nuclear Blast
     


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