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I’m not one to bow down and take part in the worship of the whole Gothenburg metal scene, like any other metal heavy rich area on the planet; it has spawned its fair share of amazing and abominable bands. But if nothing else, it is the last place where you’d expect a band to achieve the status of being both amazingly good yet underrated. Most of what comes out of this scene is either justifiably praised, unjustifiably praised, or rightly condemned for the musical trite that it is; but in the case of Nostradameus, they’ve managed to buck the general trend and have achieved a fourth status of sorts for this either underrated or overrated, yet obviously well known metal scene.
The brand of metal they play is on the heavier side of things, bringing up images of Gus G’s 2 non-Dream Evil projects of consequence. But unlike Mystic Prophecy or Firewind, the character of their style is extremely epic, although with more of a thrash-like edge to it rather than the ultra-melodic variety that is reserved for the German and Italian power metal scenes. The production tendencies of their work exemplifies true bone crushing power, yet avoids the ultra-slick modern sound that is indicative of newer bands in the scene such as Masterplan and post-Legacy of Kings Hammerfall. All things considered, this band definitely does well to carve out their own little sound in a very heavily populated genre.
“Prophet of Evil”, the second installment of Nostradameus’ fairly prolific 10 year career is a straight shot of grade A, epic speed metal with little exception. Even when things slow down and the band opts for piano and acoustic guitars to make up the bulk of the song, as is the case in the obligatory ballad “Requiem”, the epic character of the sound endures and the melodic nature avoids becoming either pretentious or comical. The band also makes extremely effective use of background choirs, mostly following the Hammerfall model of a repetitive chant by lower toned voices than the lead vocalist, and resulting in song refrains that keep a sense of balance between the epic and heavy extremes of their sound.
Everything is extremely consistent in terms of quality, although a slight edge goes towards the shorter and faster songs on here. “Evil Prophecies” and “The Power’s in your hands” perfectly exemplify the melodic speed metal character that made Legacy of Kings an absolute classic album and the best in Hammerfall’s extensive catalog. But this band ups the ante pretty significantly in the riff department, and tilts these songs slightly towards a USPM sound. The guitar solo work mostly leans towards the reserved and tasteful side of the coin, showcasing a tendency to choose their notes carefully, while still showcasing a commanding competency over the instrument’s capabilities.
On the other end of the extreme, these guys also show a flair for producing long winded songs that maintain their intrigue throughout. Although I wouldn’t quite go so far as to say that “The Final Battle” is the greatest song to ever break the 10 minute mark, it definitely holds its own and makes for an exciting listen. The acoustic intro has some strong shades of Ritchie Blackmore’s early works with Rainbow, and what follows is a very interesting mix of upper mid tempo majesty, thematic lead guitar lines and epic storytelling. Freddy Persson makes especially good use of his rough edged tenor voice on here with the occasional Harry Conklin moment, and is complemented by some well placed back up vocal chants.
Naturally there is much more that could be said about this highly proficient power metal opus, but I’ll leave it to you to discover the rest for yourself. If you like bands like Messiah’s Kiss, Mystic Prophecy, Firewind, and Lost Horizon then you’ll definitely take a liking to what’s on here. It takes a more epic road than the first three bands and lacks the progressive tendencies of the latter band, but it carries the same aggressive, take no prisoners approach to the power metal style that is often missed by detractors of the genre.
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