Nightly Nastiness
CoC interviews Nocturnal Rites
by: Adrian Bromley
It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out when a band is on the right direction or when things are clicking pretty good. Case in point, Nocturnal Rites. While their last record (and debut for Century Media) _Tales of Mistery and Imagination_ was a blistering assault of pure heavy metal mayhem consisting of solid song writing, duelling guitars and intense vocals, they seemed poised to break open the jar of creativity even further with each and every release following this one. And that is what happened with their latest LP, _The Sacred Talisman_. Heavy metal has once again come to the forefront, my friends.

Latched somewhere between thrilling and intensely passionate compositions, the music of Nocturnal Rites rests deep into woven patterns of sheer brilliance. The guitar work of founding members Frederik Mannberg and Nils Norberg is enough to draw you into the world of Nocturnal Rites with just one listen. It's been a gradual change for the band from their death metal beginnings and debut disc _In a Time of Blood and Fire_ for Dark Age Music (Christofer Johnsson of Therion's label) in 1995. Is this the best record of their career? Could be. Frederik Mannberg thinks so.

"I think this is a great record", says Mannberg from his home in Sweden. "The music is a lot tighter and we spent a bit more time on the songs. This record is definitely a lot faster and harder, though still maintaining a melodic feel. It was a good recording process for us this time out."

About the interest and success the band -- rounded out by vocalist Anders Zackrisson, bassist Nils Eriksson, keyboardist Mattias Bernhardsson and drummer Owe Wulff Lingvall -- had with the last outing, how has that changed their approach going into this record? "We're glad that everything worked out for us with the last record, though the initial tour that we had done when the record came out with Overkill didn't work too well for us. It was a different crowd for us at the time, but we pressed on with touring and got the name out there. It's going good for us now, 'cause people are aware of who we are and have seen us play."

Listening to the new record and hearing such tracks as "Destiny Calls", "Eternity Holds" and "Free at Last", it's no wonder the band has scaled down their death metal attack and aimed for a much richer melodic metal attack. It suits them, as the songs just flow with one another, leaving very few gaps of uncertainty as the record flows along. Has it been a gradual change for Mannberg and the band since their start? "It has been a good career for us. We're happy with where we have taken the band's music. It has been a gradual change. It was natural. I think we just got tired of playing death metal music. We started listening to old school metal records and then I dropped out of doing guitar and vocals and just focused on guitar and we got Anders [singer] into the band. It's been exciting to see how we changed over the years. I'm still happy with what we have done in the past and the present."

"This record has a lot of great songs", explains Mannberg. "I like a lot of the faster, heavier songs myself, but as a whole I think this record works well and offers quite a bit to the listener. It's very technical and very melodic. How could anyone not get into that? The good thing about all the ideas on this record was that it came together quite nicely and I think that is why I am so into what we did here. The studio work was very simple. We came off the road with the last record, got together, wrote some songs and went back into the studio. It really wasn't as difficult as some would believe. Maybe we just had a good thing going and we still had some solid ideas from the last recording. Whatever it was, it worked and that's all that counts."

Going more in-depth about the studio work, Mannberg accounts, "I think one reason that this record turned out this way is because of us really being tight and focused in the studio. We cut out a lot of parts on some tracks because we felt they were too happy and not really us. The songs are the way we worked them going into the studio. Nothing really changed. There really isn't much to touch up or change. For example, my guitar parts are all done live. Why should we alter them more? I like to have a live guitar feel running throughout the record. I plug in and we record. It's always been that way, it just seems as though we have more to add to the mix now than when we first started out."

One thing that Nocturnal Rites has had to deal with on a much grander scale over the last few years is being signed to a major label like Century Media. Says Mannberg, "Our first record was on a small label called Dark Age Music and it was a small release, though it did very well for us. With the last record and this one we have had to deal with being signed to a major label like Century Media and it's all new to us -- the contracts, the meetings and all that other crap that comes with being signed. It's an experience, but we're learning as it goes along. Things with Century Media have been quite good."

And what about the Swedish metal scene right now? "I don't know... I don't want to be rude, but a lot of the bands out there right now are just playing metal music that is rather easy. Nothing really complicated. I'm not saying that we are the best band out there, but we at least have a lot going on in our music. It's quite hard to put together and play such ideas on melodic guitars, keyboards and choirs. It's a lot of fun to do this and I'm glad to see some other promising metal acts coming out of Sweden, like Hollow, Persuader and Auberon. People should keep an eye out for these great bands."

(article submitted 15/6/1999)

9/1/2002 A Bromley Nocturnal Rites: Growth Through Experience
6/7/1998 A Bromley Nocturnal Rites: Retro Metal For the Masses
12/7/2005 A McKay 8.5 Nocturnal Rites - Grand Illusions
10/25/2000 A Bromley 6 Nocturnal Rites - Afterlife
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