Neo-classical German heavy metal that is influenced heavily by Yngwie Malmsteen. "Return of Aslan" is an outstanding instrumental, but sounds as if it were lifted right out of Malmsteen's first Rising Force disc. Guitarist Carljohan Grimmark, who plays a Fender Strat (big surprise), is a phenomenal shredder. His leads, while similar to Yngwie, seem more controlled and sometimes fit the music better. Rather than just trying to show off or shred, Carljohan's leads help the music. The lyrics are blatantly Christian. Somehow, spiritual lyrics seem to fit well with neo-classical metal. This album has been released with a different cover as well. The above cover is the German Nuclear Blast version.
Narnia - Long Live the King (Nuclear Blast) 1999
of Cair Paravail" (intro) [instrumental] (1:25)
More of the same as "Awakening" but with improved songwriting, better production and a slighty more melodic metal flair with influences from bands like Kamelot as well as more neo-classical bands like Yngwie Malmsteen and Dio. The lyrics are still very simplistic Christian based lyrics. When I first got this CD I listened to this one repeatedly and it never really grew boring to me, like other CDs that I abuse. Narnia know how to shred, but they don't rely simply on technique, rather they add in emotion and melody, quality song writing and employ hooky choruses as well. Another stellar release from Sweden's Narnia.
Had my copy singed by vocalist Christian Rival when I saw Narnia at the Elements of Rock Festival in Uster, Switzerland, April 2006.
Narnia - Desert Land (Nuclear Blast) 2001
1. "Inner Sanctum"
Well, one thing is for sure, these guys are consistant. I think, however, that I like this album the best thus far. The Yngwie comparisons are still inevitable but what I think has improved is that guitarist Carljohan Grimmark has decided he no longer needs to show off or prove himself, so to speak. His soloing is actually better on this album because he slows it down here and there adding a bit of emotion and making the solos fit the song, rather than the other way around. Not to worry, however, there is still plenty of shred contained herein as well. "Desert Land" has a slightly more 'classic heavy metal' feel with a few power metal tunes mixed in, than "Long Live the King" or "Awakening." Touring with Dio may have had some influence on that sound. "Misty Morning" is a killer instrumental that is probably the most Yngwie like song on the disc. This song is slow and brings forth a somber, melancholy emotion. Narnia continue to improve with each new CD. "Desert Land" is yet another solid CD to add to a solid catalogue.
Narnia - The Great Fall (Nuclear Blast) 2003
"The Great Fall" continues in the tradition of the past disc but adds a whole lot of diversity that was absent in the past. Actually, I am not even sure if it is as much diversity as it is more focused song writing. "The Great Fall" is broken up into two parts. Part one, which is tracks 1 through 5, and part two which is tracks 6 through 9. After a short spoken intro titled "War Preludium", Narnia kick into a smokin' song that is very much like the Yngwie inspired metal of their earlier platters. With "Back from the Hell", however, I was treated to one of the heaviest riffs the band has ever written. I absolutely love this song. "No Time To Lose" is a mid-paced rocker that brings back the 'classic' Narnia sound. "Innocent Blood" one again deviates from the usual, offering up something of a mix between traditional speed metal and a Deep Purple sound. It's hard to explain but this song just has a different flavor than the sound I am use to hearing from Narnia. Similarly, "Ground Zero" deviates from the traditional sound, with a mixture of heavy guitar riffs and some melodic keyboards, that reminded me a bit of Impelliterri. One of the biggest treats on this CD, however, is the epic "The Great Fall of Man". Almost fifteen minutes in length, this song never gets boring. The addition of vocalist Eric Clayton of Saviour Machine also added a bit of interest to the song. His haunting vocal style fitting perfectly with the mood of the song. Christian's vocals are still as smooth as silk and perhaps a bit less aggressive than I would have liked. I have heard that he is much more aggressive in a live setting. Unfortunately I have not had the pleasure of actually seeing Narnia live. I wouldn't mind hearing him break into a few of those screams like on the opening track of his Wisdom Call CD. Regardless of this minor complaint, however, his vocal melodies are captivating. CJ Grimmark has really matured as a guitarist, opting not to echo his idol Yngwie Malmsteen as much and play more fluidly with solos that are less flashy but fit the songs far better. With each CD Narnia have managed to top themselves, and "The Great Fall" is no exception. My copy is autographed by the entire band. (thanks Olaf.)
Narnia - Short Notice...Live in German (MCM Music) 2006
Live albums are weird. Sometimes I think they can take a band and make their songs sound better. That live energy and raw aggression is sometimes hard to capture in a studio. Other times, live albums just sound like crap and are nothing more than collectors items for fans. Well, that's not the case here. Narnia have managed to capture that live energy and released on stellar live album.
I actually prefer these live versions to the original versions. Christian is at his best here and absolutely commands the stage. Carl Jhan Grimmark is guite the showman himself. The band is tight and prooves that their excellent musicianship isn't studio trickery. The speed and aggression is present, but the musicianship is still flawless. Take a listen to the speedy album closer "The Witch and the Lion". The guitarwork is stunning. I've seen Narnia live and this CD truly is a good representation of thier sound. The energy that cannot be caputured in a studio is what really makes this CD a good listen. I also enjoyed the extended version of "Long Live the King" which incorporates a bit of crowd involvement. I was blessed to watch the band pull this song off from the side of the stage in Uster, Switzerland in 2006 and it was fantastic. Joinging them on stage for that show was Rob Rock who sang the song duet style with Christian. Unfortunately that is not a moment that was captured on this CD, but the version presented here lacks nothing. "At Short Notice...Live in Germany" is a solid live album.
"At Short Notice..." was originally released on DVD, in European PAL format only. I am glad that the band decided to release this on CD. Apparently the CD version has a better sound quality than the DVD thanks to better mastering.
Narnia - Enter the Gate (Massacre) 2006
1. "Into this Game"
In recent years, the men of Narnia have been involved in many different projects outstide of Narnia. While some may accuse the band of spreading themselves thin, I think this has actually broadened the band's musical spectrum. "Enter the Gate" may very well be the band's best CD, and is most certainly one of their most diverse to date. Still retaining the neo-classical metal edge, the band is also now exploring power metal and progressive metal terrains quite successfully. The CD starts off with a heavy track titled "Into this Game". The keyboards are a big part of this song. The use of keys in the first song made me worry that the rest of the CD might rely to much on keys. Fortunately that is not the case, the riffs drive most of the songs here with the keys adding to the overall sound, not unlike Dio's "Rainbow in the Dark". This is not a wimpy CD whatsoever. The only mellow song on the album is "Take Me Home", which is far from a wimpy radio ballad. Actually this bass lead ballad is quite emotional and still retains a heaviness, despite the absence of a heavy guitar riff. "People of the Blood Red Cross" continues with the metal assualt. Both these songs have very catchy choruses and some fantastic interplay between the keyboards and the lead guitar, not unlike some of the early Rainbow material. One thing that I did notice is that Carl Johan is doing less of those intense Yngwie/Uli Roth inspired solos and is adding a bit more feeling to his guitar solos. "Another World" actually features a killer bluesy guitar solo. That is not to say that he doesn't let loose with some of those insane leads elsewhere. The very next song "Show All the World" features a lead that I am sure left burn marks on the fretboard. Vocalist Christian Rivel seems to have added some diversity to his vocals as well. While he continues to use his high, clean, smooth voice, he has added a bit more aggression to emphasize certain parts of songs, even getting a bit gravely. A few times he even lets loose with some falsetto vocals, which sounded great. Perhaps my favorite song on this CD is the epic, progressive album closer, "The Man from Nazareth". This song is musically and lyrically one of my favorite Naria songs ever. The band obviously poured a lot of emotion into this song.
I was fortunate enough to see Narnia live on the day this CD was released in Europe. The band put on a spectacular show. At one point Rob Rock even came out on stage with the band to share vocal duties on "Long Live the King". I was very impressed, which may also have affected my view of "Enter the Gate." Even had Carl Johan Grimmark autograph my copy.
"Decade of Confession" is for all intensive purposes, the Narnia box set. It contains a great overview of the band's back catalog in descending chronological order, as well as plenty of non-albums tracks and rarities. Of the non-album tracks, there is a cover of Uriah Heep's "Sunrise", two tracks that were previously only available on expensive Japanese imports ("Hymn to the North" & "Can't Get Enough of You), one track that is previously unreleased remix ("Show All the World"), and one brand new track ("In His Majesty's Service"). The live tracks included are from the "A Short Notice...Live in Germany" CD. The CD is wrapped in a double gatefold digi and contains a 20-page, full color booklet with tons of photos and liner notes. Sometimes in collections like this, you can hear the progression of the production as the songs go along. Certainly Narnia's production improved with each new release, however. the mastering is well done so that each song flows into the next without any real noticeable problems with production or volume from song to song. As for the collection of songs themselves, the band or label has done a good job of picking out some of the cream of the crop. "Decade of Confession" offers up over two hours of heavy, neo-classical, power metal.
Narnia - Course of a Generation (Massacre Records) 2009