Nocturnal Rites - Phoenix

Nocturnal Rites Phoenix cover
Nocturnal Rites
AFM Records
Obviously, I know who Nocturnal Rites are, but I did presume them to have gone MIA, since it was ten or so years, since their last album. I must say that I first saw the album on vinyl and I was struck by it’s cool cover artwork… and after that I thought to fire up a google search in case they had any videos out. True that “Before We Waste Away” was released last June and it’s a catchy melodic number in the style of more prog The Poodles, mid to late era Hammerfall and such, with occasional touches of other styles. A certain progress since the somewhat simpler more to the point power metal of their formative days, but still recognizable as them.
Opener “A Heart as Black as Coal” is even better, while “The Poisonous Seed” feels like the bastard child of Kamelot with Darkology. A dark, twisted and somewhat epic number with strong guitar melodies.
“Repent My Sins” is obviously more “white metal” to the point where “Golden Resurrection” gone heavier, parallels could be drawn… but I’m not the biggest fan of these Stryper preachy tunes… this one walks a fine line between being that and a good tune, so it’s saved.
“What’s Killing Me” has some more modern beats, but plenty of prog orchestrations, as it tries to diversify itself, which it manages to do at the expense of estranging the metal puritans.
“A Song for You” tries to mix a melodic song with some pretty modern elements and even some overdrive vocals, ending up somewhat messy.
“The Ghost in Me” keeps up that modernist tendency and while it sounds competently and meticulously written and performed, it doesn’t manage to rise above the bar that the band set by themselves quite high. Sure, there is a superb solo, but it’s lost in something that sounds rather colorless and rather generic. You’ve certainly heard countless bands doing this sympho-prog style better and worse, for that matter, but very few really stood out or lasted long.
“Nothing Can Break Me” has even more modern arrangements in its beginning, before it settles to a proggy mid-tempo that falls comfortably in line with the rest of the album, but feels rather forgettable.
“Flames” is a bit simpler and manages to sound a bit more accessible, but the band follows that up with a bizarre quite modernist groovy track in “Used to Be God” that isn’t bad, but feels somewhat alien and to forward thinking for their own good. The solo is, at first, interesting, but then fails to deliver fully on what it alludes early on.
“Welcome to the End” closes the album in a far more traditional way, I suppose… which I might have been happy with if the chorus was more intricate and it wasn’t basing its hooks on some vocal melody inflections here and there.
Well performed, but somewhat generic power/prog metal that will satisfy fans in the short term, but doesn’t seem to have staying power.