Some bold souls have called the commercial-edged Nocturnal Rites “the Journey of power metal” — commercial they are, Steve Perry-brilliant they aren’t. That’s not to say the Swedish sextet’s fourth album, Afterlife, is any slouch; it’s merely that it doesn’t live up to such grand standards of excellence the aforementioned tag, inadvertently intended as an insult, would suggest. Sure, there’s some tastefully-subtle scorching of guitar tones courtesy of Pro Tools or keyboards or whatever (get this: Nils Norberg plays “Lead and Rhythm Guitar, Guitar-Synthesizer and Spacilizer” — maybe his last name’s actually Lofgren…), but it’s certainly not something Jonathan Cain would be doing if he was playing in a Gamma Ray cover band — try Stratovarius instead. Likewise, new vocalist Jonny Lindkvist’s imagination for enduring melodies seems to only extend to the laughably titled “Wake Up Dead,” a veritable rewrite of Helloween’s classic “I Want Out” — surely, no competition for Perry’s timeless “Only the Young,” “Suzanne,” “Send Her My Love,” or “Be Good to Yourself.” Admirably executed nonetheless, but lesson to be learned on Afterlife? Don’t believe the hype.
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