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NorthTale - Welcome to Paradise Award winner

NorthTale
Welcome to Paradise
by John Paul Romero at 01 August 2019, 1:23 PM

What happens when you put the former TWILIGHT FORCE vocalist, former UDO DIRKSCHNIDER and TRANS-SIBERIAN ORCHESTRA guitarist and former YNGWIE MALMSTEEN and drummer all together in one band? Well, you just formed a dream team. Add the world class keyboardist Jimmy Pitts and STREAMLINE bassist Mikael Planefeldt to the complete lineup and you get NORTHTALE. Undeniably, this is a Power Metal supergroup, and it’s not difficult to understand why the group was so hyped even before they were officially a band. Originally, their plan was to release an EP by the end of 2018; but a very fortunate sequence took place – they were signed by Nuclear Blast, and that’s why here they are now releasing their much anticipated debut effort “Welcome to Paradise”.

Since their earliest days in the studio, they have always reiterated that the kind of Power Metal they will make is in the likes of STRATOVARIUS and HAMMERFALL. Bill even mentioned that IRON MAIDEN and JUDAS PRIEST are also among his lifelong inspirations in making music. They also said that it will be out of raw talent and skills, with a straightforward approach. Well, that was given justice by this sweet 13-piece record. From the opening title track, that HAMMERFALL-STRATOVARIUS hybrid is on point. The riffs are strong but do not steal the spotlight. The solos are also exceptional and sounded really great alongside Jimmy’s keys. The song is so intense, yet it keeps a very positive vibe in it. And then the first single “Higher” comes in with that really splendid intro. In case you haven’t checked it out on YouTube yet, you might be missing something really special. It is especially remarkable for its lyrics, and of course that duel between Bill and Jimmy. You also can’t count out Mikael – the bass lines in this song boom like thunder.

The first two tracks off the album are already at a high level, but it turns out that those two songs are only appetizers. It gets more engaging with the chorus oriented songs “Follow Me”, “The Rhythm of Life” and “Time To Rise”. “The Rhythm of Life” even has crowd-engaging sing along passages. “Time To Rise” is made special by its anthemic chorus equally catchy verses. There is also a reason to be amazed by the razor sharp and relentless solo in this song.

And then here comes the great revelation called “Way of the Light”. Majority of the fans got so addicted to Christian’s unmatchable high notes in those two TWILIGHT FORCE albums. In this song, he showed that he is not only about those wails – he can also do its polar opposite. In just one song, he put his wide range on full display singing on a very low key in the beginning before ascending to his usual form. But take note – this is a power ballad. Aside for the vocals, another element that stood out here is the keyboards which provided all the background emotions to emphasize the sappy vibe of the song. Of course, it would be a crime if I don’t talk about Bill’s solo. Remember that John Pettrucci solo in “The Spirit Carries On”? It’s not too long, but is definitely filled with emotion – as though the guitar talks to you. I can say that Bill nailed that effect flawlessly. “Way of the Light” is a very emotional power ballad but it’s not short of surprises – and that’s why it is one of the most memorable songs in the album. I swear, that chorus will stick in your head for quite some time and will make you play it again and again before proceeding to the next song.

After the said power ballad comes “Shape Your Reality” – the song that started it all. They first released this song back in 2018 as part of the supposed EP. It became an easy favorite for its simple song structure, catchy rhythms, anthemic chorus, and of course – that epic duel between the guitars and keys. And it kind of served as a template for the rest of the songs too. The intro is brief – negating any drama whatsoever. The approach is straightforward, lyrics about life, and simply displaying all-out musical greatness.

Meanwhile, they go a little bit dancey with “Everyone’s a Star”. Again, the chorus is a big and catchy. The keyboards give an amazing and colorful backdrop to the song. The lyrics are so engaging – and intriguing? Obviously, this is one of the more inspired songs in the album. Among the generally stronger tracks in the second half of the album, one song really caught my attention – “Bring Down the Mountain”. In the opening moments of the song, I thought it was a cover of “Painkiller”. It has killer riffs and an aggressive pace. Undeniably, this is one of the more aggressive songs in the album alongside “Siren’s Fall” and “Playing With Fire”.

Another extra wonderful track is “If Angels are Real”. It’s a song about a man bidding farewell to his friend. With what I said, you might expect that it is an emotional mid-pace song. But you’re wrong – it has a very high energy, and has a very positive vibe and message. Closing the game is another ballad “Even When”. This time, the song bids farewell to the listener, standing there at the end of the album like a conclusion to the epic saga called “Welcome to Paradise”. It has a very tranquil atmosphere, making it quite reminiscent of “The Bard’s Song – In the Forest”. That big epic choir in the closing end only made it more elegant. At last, after 53 minutes of all-out epicenes, time to breathe!

Seeing the overall beauty of this album is easy. It has epic choruses in all the tracks – and that makes it a really memorable album. The solos are extravagant – both the guitars and keyboards. The moderate length of the songs is also a critical factor in the album. The songs have an average length of 4 minutes – just enough to post an all-out attack without having to be too over the top. It is a really effective way to get the adrenaline flowing and keep the listener craving for the next songs. I’d also like to mention that their keyboardist Jimmy Pitts is also a part of the band ETERNITY’S END which released their own epic album this year that contains tempos “exceeding supersonic velocity”. Obviously, he is also a vital part of this album and the band itself considering that they only have one guitarist. But having only one guitarist didn’t turn out to be a difficulty for NORTHTALE because Bill is a brilliant riff machine. Overall, I must say that this is a really emphatic debut that surpasses the initial expectations for this band. And we can’t be more thrilled by the fact that this is just the beginning of the road for NORTHTALE and that we could expect more of this in the near future.

Songwriting: 9
Originality: 8
Memorability: 10
Production: 10

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Welcome to Paradise
2. Higher
3. Follow Me
4. The Rhythm of Life
5. Time to Rise
6. Way of the Light
7. Shape Your Reality
8. Everyone’s a Star
9. Siren’s Fall
10. Bring Down the Mountain
11. Playing With Fire
12. If Angels Are Real
13. Even When
Lineup:
Christian Eriksson – Vocals
Bill Hudson – Guitars
Jimmy Pitts – Keyboards
Anders Johansson – Drums
Mikael Planefeldt – Bass
Record Label: Nuclear Blast Records
     


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Edited 29 September 2022
 

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