Nocturnal Rites - _Grand Illusions_
(Century Media, 2005)
by: Aaron McKay (8.5 out of 10)
OK, I am going to come clean here: Nocturnal Rites has been a proud staple in my CD collection since _Tales of Mystery and Imagination_. While that little sip of truth elixir isn't like admitting to waiting in line all night outside Specs Music in the mid '80s for Queensryche's _Rage for Order_ to go on sale, one must consider their audience and the consequences of any possible conduct unbecoming perception. So, what the hell does all that have to do with this newest jewel from Sweden's Nocturnal Rites? The answer: nothing, so let's rectify that.

As infectious as ever after a decade long career, this five-piece outfit deliver ten tracks of some of the most passionately catchy melodic metal to date with _Grand Illusions_. The Fredrik Mannberg / Nils Norberg guitar interplay is viscerally captivating, especially on cuts like "Still Alive" and "Cuts Like a Knife". That said, it is pretty damn tough to select just a couple examples of where this musical interplay is more prominent than another -- "Fools Never Die" and "Never Trust", tracks one and two on the disc respectively, share that same description. So never mind my citing the "especially", "specifically" and "particularly" when it comes to NR's viscous rhythms on _Grand Illusions_.

Sounding at times like a single vocalist conceptualization of Demons & Wizards, Nocturnal Rites concentrates their diverse momentum and harmonious melodies into a laser-like instrument on this effort. Notable talents on loan utilized by NR on this album include such names as Kristoffer Olivius from Naglfar, Jens Johansson of Stratovarius, and HammerFall's Stefan Elmgren, complete with Axel Hermann (In Flames / Dream Evil) supplying the cover art on this powerful opus. How can you really go wrong?

While the last song, "Deliverance" fails somewhat to let the entire album pass without a single hiccup, in light of the works preceding it, the song amounts to nothing more than a minor run of the mill musical glitch; every album can't be _Tales of Mystery and Imagination_, but this grand illusion is in no way a figment of your imagination -- Nocturnal Rites has given you the real deal.


(article published 7/12/2005)

9/1/2002 A Bromley Nocturnal Rites: Growth Through Experience
6/15/1999 A Bromley Nocturnal Rites: Nightly Nastiness
6/7/1998 A Bromley Nocturnal Rites: Retro Metal For the Masses
10/25/2000 A Bromley 6 Nocturnal Rites - Afterlife
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