ALBUM REVIEW: NARNIA — From Darkness to Light

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By Martin Simson, Editor 

When I first heard that Narnia was reforming and recording a new studio album in 2014, I was downright elated. I’ve been a fan since 1998 and the idea of a new album was absolutely thrilling. The end result was 2016’s much acclaimed self-titled effort.

Fast forward to January 2017. What started as just the beginnings of one song written in a small room in California, has become the masterpiece we now know as From Darkness to Light.

This album takes the growth that began on the previous album and brings it to fruition. The band chose to take some risks, and boy did they ever pay off! From an overall heavier guitar sound, to progressive time changes, to classic double-bass power metal, to atmospheric hard rock — this disc has it ALL.

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Let’s dive into a track-by-track breakdown.

The opener, A Crack in the Sky (available now on all digital platforms), hits like a freight train flying down the track. The main riff has a heavier edge than you’d expect from a Narnia song, with an interesting time signature. The chorus is powerful and the solo is blistering, as would be expected from shred-master CJ Grimmark. A great choice for the opener.

You Are the Air that I Breathe is up next. With a riff reminiscent of AC/DC, the band brings things back to a straight-ahead approach. This is my pick for “radio song” for this record. Another catchy chorus that’s sure to get stuck in your head. Easily digestible for the masses.

In the third spot we find Has the River Run Dry?, a mid-tempo rocker with a big chorus and a slow, tasty guitar solo — possibly my favorite on the album. Not every great solo has to be fast, you know :). A solid tune that should stand up well over time.

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Track number four, The Armor of God, starts with some creative synth work then blasts into double-kick power metal glory. Fans of the band’s neoclassical roots will be delighted with this tune. With one of the best choruses on the album and TWO blazing solos, this should be a favorite with most fans. Another fantastic track reminiscent of I Still Believe.

If you’re not willing to have your face melted off, skip MNFST. A cool synth intro gives way to one of the most massive metal riffs ever created. Probably the heaviest song on the record, Grimmark’s four rhythm guitar tracks really cut through. Bold lyrics resonate throughout, especially on the chorus. A little over halfway through, the real fun begins. While the first half of the song is a killer 80s style rocker, the second act takes us into prog-metal territory that would make John Petrucci grin. All that, coupled with a searing guitar solo, makes this my favorite song on the album. CRANK this one for maximum enjoyment!

FB_IMG_1556994803195The War that Tore the Land starts out slow with an atmospheric intro, similar to Thank You from the previous album, yet distinct. It gives way to a modern sounding guitar driven chorus, including, for the first time, female vocals. A definite highlight with it’s airy vocals and emotional solo. Hallelujah, amen.

Now we arrive at Sail On. Starting with one of the best riffs on the record (reminds me a bit of Grimmark’s solo album), this one is definitely worthy of gas-station-cranker status (right after you’ve played MNFST). Shocker alert: another fantastic chorus. This one gets a little proggy as well, with some elements reminding me of Rush (though, probably not intentional). Rounding things out is another incredible guitar solo. I’m told this was the first song written (in that tiny room in California). One of the strongest songs on the album.

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Next up, I Will Follow. Keys and guitar open things up like a clap of thunder, leading to a surprisingly mellow verse — very dynamic. A solid chorus, and a solo segment that reminds me a little of YES, are standout elements. Another highlight for sure.

Rounding out the album is the two-part title track, From Darkness to Light. The beginning of this tune reminds me of something off The Great Fall (in a good way). It then progresses into acoustic guitars and piano and then some Pink Floyd-ish goodness. Another great guitar solo followed by a lap-steel solo. This song succeeds where much of TGF fell short. Atmospheric, deep, delightful!

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The main thing that stands out about this album is the lyrical boldness. Narnia has always been outspoken about their faith but they made sure there are no doubts with this record. Excluding the classic first three albums, this is their best offering to date.

Highlights include MNFST, The Armor of God, Sail On, You Are the Air That I Breathe, A Crack in the Sky, The War That Tore the Land and I Will Follow. There’s something here for fans of all of Narnia’s various iterations throughout the years. This outing is as diverse as the self-titled album was homogeneous — and it WORKS. Narnia continues to grow and this album proves that’s a good thing.

Score: 10/10

 

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NARNIA Releases “A CRACK IN THE SKY”, First Single and Music Video from the Forthcoming Album “FROM DARKNESS TO LIGHT”

Uppsala, Sweden. May 31st, 2019

Swedish metal band Narnia released the single A Crack in the Sky today, which is the first track off the forthcoming studio album, From Darkness to Light.

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To follow up the release, touring begins in September, where the band looks forward to meeting old and new fans alike.

While awaiting the band’s eighth studio-album (which will be released on August 2nd) the first single, A Crack in the Sky, has been released on all major digital platforms in cooperation with record label Sound Pollution.

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On the band’s YouTube channel, you can find the music-video, produced by Mats Vassfjord (220 Volt and Impera). The song is the first track off the forthcoming album From Darkness To Light, and a mix of modern and melodic metal, a style associated with the band for over 20 years.

This single release begins the countdown of a new major venture with Narnia, which means additional single releases, album release in August, and then the forthcoming tour that begins in South America along with American bands Stryper and Tourniquet.

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The album is produced by Narnia’s guitarist CJ Grimmark, mixed by the band’s sound engineer Viktor Stenquist, and mastered by Jens Bogren, Fascination Street Studios (Sepultura, Symphony X, James LaBrie of Dream Theater).

From Darkness To Light will be released on CD, vinyl in different colors, and digitally on August 2nd , and will be distributed by Sound Pollution (Europe, USA, Australia), King Records (Asia) and Voice Music, Icarus Music and The Dove’s Voice Records (Latin America). 

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Purchase your copy today on all major digital platforms and be sure to like and share the music video!

NARNIA to Release 8th Studio Album, ‘FROM DARKNESS TO LIGHT’, on August 2nd (EXCLUSIVE)

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Uppsala, Sweden. May 2nd, 2019

Swedish metal band, Narnia, announces the release-date for its eighth studio-album; From Darkness to Light. First single – A Crack In The Sky – will be available on all digital platforms, May 31st. The single will also be released along with a music video, produced by Mats Vassfjord (Grand Design and 220 Volt).

Narnia’s new album; From Darkness To Light is the band’s eight studio album, and a natural sequel to the previous, self-titled album, from the band’s return and 20th anniversary in 2016. The spark that Narnia lit on last year’s live album We Still Believe – Made in Brazil, has followed the band into the studio, where this energy has been channeled and structured into a long parade of nine songs.

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With the musical roots remaining deep in melodic metal, the band has both stretched on to a modern sound where the guitars still dominate, but also allows analogue 70/80’s analogue synthesizers to take place in the soundscape.

The lyrics are noticeably important to the band and in true Narnia spirit this heritage has been well managed and further refined. The album is produced by Narnia’s guitarist CJ Grimmark, mixed by the band’s sound engineer Viktor Stenquist, and mastered by Jens Bogren, Fascination Street Studios.

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From Darkness To Light will be released on CD, vinyls in different colors and digitally August 2nd , and distributed by Sound Pollution (Europe, USA, Australia), King Records (Asia) and Voice Music (South America).

The album-release will be followed up with a tour in 2019-2020, starting in South America, together with Stryper and Tourniquet. First single, A Crack in the Sky, will be released on all major digital platforms May 31st, along with a music video produced by Mats Vassfjord (Grand Design and 220 Volt).

Stay tuned to for more exclusive content!

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: ROB ROCK Talks About the New Impellitteri Album, His Solo Career, and His Faith

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We caught up with Rob Rock recently and he had a lot to say about the new Impellitteri album, his solo career and his faith.

The Pure Metal Fan: What made you want to become a musician?

Rob Rock: I think growing up in a musical family played a big part in what direction I went in. Loving rock and roll on the radio and having my brother’s band rehearsing in the basement really cemented my love for music. Plus the fact that I was always encouraged to chase my dreams was fuel for the fire.

TPMF: Who are your major influences?

RR: Foreigner, Styx, Bad Co., Uriah Heep, and Grand Funk Railroad were my earliest influences. I started as a drummer who also sang leads and backing vocals. As a singer, Lou Gramm and Dio were my favorite vocalists, and Queen, Judas Priest, and Boston were also some of my favorite groups.

TPMF: How did you meet Chris and when did you start working with him?

RR: I met Chris at a gig. My band was opening up for the Gregg Allman Band and Chris was there. After the show he introduced himself and told me that we needed to play together. He came down to the club the next day and we jammed and he was right. Soon after he joined my band and we started writing songs and performing originals and cover songs together.

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TPMF: Who writes the songs for Impellitteri?

RR: Chris is the driving force for the songs but the whole band is involved, especially writing our own parts. Chris is the catalyst for the songs, demo-ing up song ideas and passing them around to the band. Everyone adds their parts to the song and we put it all together. Chris and I work together offering suggestions on the title and melody framework and I take it from there as far as the lyrics go.

TPMF: Could you briefly describe the music-making process?

RR: First we demo-up the songs and decide which ones are keepers and which songs work well together to create an album. Then the band will go in the studio and record the songs live, concentrating on the drums. From there we each do our parts and once we have all the tracks complete it goes to mixing and mastering.

“LOL…that was kind of scary actually…I had my reservations about messing with such a classic.”

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TPMF: Who came up with the ‘beasts and monsters’ theme for The Nature of the Beast?

RR: Chris had the original thoughts on the title and from there is just kind of evolved into a theme. It was not intentional from the start but naturally occurred during the writing process. Even though there is no song with that title, I reference the theme in several songs which became a thread that kind of runs through the album.

TPMF: What was it like doing a metal version of The Phantom of the Opera?

RR: LOL…that was kind of scary actually…I had my reservations about messing with such a classic. When I heard the demo, I was floored by Chris’s take on it. Wow, how is this going to go over? Then I had to step up to the plate and deliver vocally. Chris and I discussed that we would demo it and see what the result was, and make sure we were happy with it. I think it is a unique take on the song for sure, and hopefully we will surprise a lot of people.

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TPMF: Is it just me, or does Masquerade sound a lot like Randy Rhoads era Ozzy? Was this intentional?

RR: Yea, I could hear that! It was a riff Chris was playing around with when we were practicing for the tour after the Venom album was released. It sounded great on the demo so we went with it. Of course the #metoo movement was beginning to get a lot of exposure and attention so I just had to comment on it.

TPMF: Does the verse, “Come to me, and I’ll set your spirit free” on Kill the Beast refer to Jesus Christ? And what is the overall theme on the song?

RR: There are some lyrical double meanings throughout the album and the answer to your question is yes. The theme is about dark influences and spiritual warfare in the world. The song “Man of War” is a tribute to the Armed Forces but also has an underlying spiritual theme to it.

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TPMF: Which songs do you like the most off the new album?

RR: That depends on which day you ask me…I go through phases where I like certain songs more, and then I’ll find myself gravitating towards other songs as well, so it’s really hard to say. I like all of them actually… this album has a lot of depth once you sink into it.

“I find it really hard to exist in a box or a label that has been created by others.”

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TPMF: What has been Impellitteri’s biggest challenge as a band?

RR: I think finding the right touring situation has been a challenge. We, to this day, are still seeking a great way to reach the fans that makes sense to everyone involved. We do some huge shows in Asia and Europe and want to do that here in the States as well, but we need to get the promoters on board to open the doors for good touring options.

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TPMF: It’s a well known fact that Impellitteri isn’t a Christian band, but do you consider yourself a Christian musician?

RR: I find it really hard to exist in a box or a label that has been created by others. I’m not sure that one label means the exact same thing to everyone. I know I’m a Christian, and I know that I’m a musician.

TPMF: How big of a role has your faith played in your songwriting, and your life in general?

RR: When I write lyrics, I write from my personal point of view, or from the point of view from the subject of the song, or sometimes from the viewpoint of others. I don’t lock myself in any box. I just try to do what’s best for each song and not compromise my beliefs in the process.

My faith is reflected in my songwriting and I also vary my approach to lyrics with the situation I am writing in. It is not always blatant. Sometimes my lyrics are commentary observations of the world around us. My faith plays a huge roll in my life and is always present in creating music and lyrics.

TPMF: It’s been over 11 years since your last solo album, when can we expect a new one?

RR: I’ve been continually asked about the next RR album. I am currently writing songs with several friends and hope to get on a roll to put together some demos in the near future. I’m not sure when it will all come together, but I am hoping that 2019 will be a good year to start recording.

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TPMF: Any parting words?

RR: Well, I hope everyone will support the Impellitteri band and buy a CD or download. Hopefully the chance to see us live and get a T-shirt will come together soon, too.

The band seems to have a lot of momentum with the release of “The Nature of the Beast”.

We are working on getting the band out there and hope to tour soon and do some concerts and some more festival shows all over the world.

I would like to thank the fans and friends and supporters who have stayed with us and supported us all along this ride. It’s amazing that our metal family is still so strong!

Thank you, and God bless you all.

You can purchase your copy of The Nature of the Beast from Amazon, Google Play, iTunes and other fine retailers.

 

Album Review: Narnia — Narnia

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So…it’s been HOW long since the last Narnia studio album with Christian Liljegren on lead vocals? Ten years, you say? Has it really been that long? It has been a long time but this album, dare I say, is worth the wait. I’m not even really sure where to start with this review, but, here goes.

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The Narnia faithful will not be disappointed with this record. With this self-titled effort, Narnia returns to it’s neoclassical power metal roots. There is something on this album for fans of all of Narnia’s various sound/style iterations (sans Course of a Generation). There’s a little Long Live the King here, and a little Enter the Gate there. But although the band stays true to it’s sonic roots, there’s plenty of musical evolution to keep this effort sounding fresh. CJ Grimmark would probably disagree, but I find the album to be about half classic Narnia and half a progression towards a newer sound. Let’s break it down track by track:

The opener, Reaching for the Top, is a high energy track in the tradition of Inner Sanctum from the Desert Land album. I think it’s pretty much the perfect opening track for a comeback album. The catchy riff coupled with a tasty guitar solo is sure to please.

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Next, we’re hit with I Still Believe, the new People of the Blood Red Cross, if you will. This tune should have you doing a jig with it’s Irish-sounding intro. It then kicks into an up-tempo rhythm leading to a catchy chorus and then into possibly the fastest guitar solo ever recorded by Grimmark. I find the solo break to be particularly satisfying in it’s entirety. CJ’s use of an entirely different rhythm behind the guitar solo is brilliant. I haven’t noticed that with most other artists. This is one of the best tracks on the album.

In spot number three, we find On the Highest Mountain (possibly my favorite song, well, because…you’ll just have to read the liner notes). This song sounds like it would fit nicely in the LLTK era, yet still feels fresh with it’s time changes and booming chorus. Clearly, the last half of the song is my favorite (liner notes…). CJ solos through the last third of the song, a la Star Over Bethlehem from the Japanese version of LLTK. In a word, it’s down right SHREDTASTIC!

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Things really slow down with Thank You. The first time I heard it, it seemed out of place. Let’s just say it’s not your typical Narnia tune. After several listens, I really started to like it. It’s actually quite refreshing. A quiet beginning builds to some fine soloing by mister Grimmark. All in all, a somewhat experimental track that actually works.

Up next, One Way to the Promised Land kicks things back up to full-rocking mode. This one is a fave for sure, with it’s driving rhythm and fascinating keyboard/guitar solo. Probably among my top three favorite songs on the album.

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We now arrive at Messengers. The second of two singles released just a few days ago (Reaching for the Top being the first), this is my pick for the best radio song on the record. The animated video for this tune is pretty darn cool. Be sure to check it out at the link below. Solid track in the best Narnia tradition.

Who do You Follow? is another rockin’ gem with some interesting time changes. “Priesthood of Sweden your castles are burning…” is the stand-out lyric. There’s another rippin’ guitar solo, as expected. overall a great tune.

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In the eighth spot we find Moving On, another high-tempo scorcher to crank up until just before it’s painful. I really dig the chord progression on the verse — it’s fresh and tasty. Yet another impressive guitar solo from my favorite shred-master is here to enjoy. Another great track.

Last, and certainly not least, is Set the World on Fire. This is my favorite song, without a doubt. Artists often bury the weakest tracks deep on the B side, but that’s not the case here. In my opinion, this is one of the most killer tunes on the album, especially riff-wise. The snare and bass drums kick it off like a gun at a sprint event. Grimmark is doing so much with the rhythm guitar that you have to pay very close attention to catch it all. The guitar solo and solo break are the best on the album, especially the harmony solo portion. This track ends the album with an even bigger bang than RFTT opens it with.

The bottom line: This is arguably the BEST Narnia album to date. It’s a monumental task to attempt to topple the likes of LLTK and DL, but the boys from Sweden just may have done it. From top-notch mixing and mastering to CJ Grimmark’s masterful production skills, this may in fact be the perfect Narnia record.

Score: 9.5/10

The album is available worldwide on September 16th.

Check out the band here: http://www.narniatheband.com

EXCLUSIVE: George Ochoa Discusses Upcoming Worldview Album, New Lead Vocalist

By: Martin Simson, Editor

The Pure Metal Fan had the privilege of visiting with George Ochoa in his southern California studio this past Friday and we learned some exciting things about the new Worldview album.

We had the opportunity to hear two of the new tracks, and the experience left us very excited. If these two songs are any indication, this record may top the first.

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“The new Worldview album is going to have the same high-caliber as the first one, if not higher…”, says Ochoa.

The new lead vocalist (announcement coming soon) sounds amazing. Deep lows and soaring highs, filling both tracks with resonating verses and catchy choruses. Distinctively different vocal approach than the first album (featuring Rey Parra), but not entirely unfamiliar.

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George Ochoa in his southern California recording studio

George continues, “We’ll be releasing a music video in the next month-and-a-half; probably a lyric video.”

Based on just these two songs, this record should easily top The Chosen Few — definitely a power/progressive metal album worthy of getting excited about!

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George is projecting a November 2018 release date.

#worldviewmetal #georgereneochoa #heavymetal #metal #hardrock #christianmetal #christianhardrock

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Album Review: Narnia — We Still Believe (Made in Brazil)

By: Martin Simson, Editor

This is Narnia’s second live album, and let me tell you, it’s a good one.

I won’t be doing a track by track break-down in this review only because it’s a live album with previously released material.

My overall impression is that this record sounds HUGE. Especially if you turn it up until just before it’s painful. Some of the songs sound even better than the original studio recordings, particularly the earlier material. CJ Grimmark has changed his guitar attack on several songs, making them sound even better, if that’s even possible.

Christian’s vocals sound strong and clear, and the overall production is excellent. Each musician is easily heard in the mix. The obligatory drum solo (which Andreas NAILS) and guitar solo do not disappoint. CJ’s solo is saturated with feeling, emotion and just enough speed to satisfy any shred fan.

The stand-out tracks are Shelter Through the Pain, Messengers, No More Shadows from the Past, The Awakening and Living Water.

The mix and production couldn’t be better. This is a live disc that will satisfy even the harshest critics of live albums. This is definitely a must-have for power metal fans of all breeds.

Score: 4.5/5

Track listing:

  • 01 – Inner Sanctum
  • 02 – The Mission
  • 03 – Reaching For The Top
  • 04 – Shelter Through The Pain
  • 05 – No More Shadows From The Past
  • 06 – I Still Believe
  • 07 – Messengers
  • 08 – Drum Solo
  • 09 – Guitar Solo
  • 10 – The Awakening
  • 11 – Long Live The King
  • 12 – Into This Game
  • 13 – Living Water

Line up:

  • Christian Liljegren – Vocals
  • CJ Grimmark – Guitar, vocals
  • Andreas Johansson – Drums
  • Martin Härenstam – Keyboards
  • Jonatan Samuelsson – Bass, vocals

You can pre-order your copy here: http://narniatheband.com/campaign-we-still-believe-made-in-brazil/

Chris Impellitteri Excited about Feedback from “The Nature of the Beast”

Chris Impellitteri is pleased by industry feedback about Impellitteri’s forthcoming album The Nature of the Beast.

Read on:

Further Details Regarding Oz Fox’s Condition

More information about Oz Fox’s status.

“While performing on stage in Las Vegas, on August 12th, 2018 at approximately 12:30 am Oz Fox had a seizure on stage.  He was taken to the hospital to stabilize his vitals and was given a CAT scan & MRI.  Results showed that he had 2 masses in his head, one by his ear and the other in the back of his brain. The next day he was given a spinal tap. Results stated he had no infections in his spine, so now Oz will go under testing for brain surgery biopsies.”

Please continue to pray for Oz, Annie and their families.

Update on Oz Fox

Update on Oz Fox from Annie Lobert’s Facebook page:

“Update on Oz Fox: Spinal tap results in: No infection, but Oz needs a procedure for biopsies on his brain.

Not going to lie…this has messed me up! But yesterday I was reminded of 2 Cronicles 20 & the story of king Jehoshaphat—how the enemy was coming against him fierce! The attack upon them was serious & looked like in the natural they would surely lose…but here is what God said:

“Do not be afraid nor dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours, but God’s.

You will not need to fight this battle…POSITION yourselves, stand still and see the salvation of the Lord, who is with you, oh Judah & Jerusalem! Do not fear or be dismayed; tomorrow go out against them, for the Lord is with you.

And Jehoshaphat bowed his head with his face to the ground, and all Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem bowed before the Lord”

The story goes that king ordered the people to sing and worship as they headed out to battle:

“Praise the Lord, His mercy endures forever!”

And when they started singing, God brought ambushes against the enemies and they were DEFEATED.

So here is what I’m asking all of you to do—believe that God is good—worship with us & pray with us as we head into this battle.

We trust God no matter what. This is how we fight our battles—it may look like we’re surrounded but God is surrounding us.

Oz says he just wants to get home & play his guitar—get better & get back on stage. Oh and make some pancakes. Lols!

We sincerely love you all and thank you for standing in the gap!”

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