NorthTale - Welcome to Paradise
A few months ago when we spoke to Bill Hudson and Christian Erickson about their new album, Bill understandably kept going on and on about how fantastic the album was, how back to power metal roots it was, how steeped in the early 2000s melodic metal sound it was. And understandably I was leery, and worried that he was just talking big and about to bamboozle me...
No bamboozle. Welcome to Paradise is the real deal, and it lives up to all of Bill's hype. The instrumental work definitely feels like the culmination of Bill's time in metal with bits of Cellador, Circle II Circle, Power Quest and more shining through with clear influence from the neoclassical power metal greats like Sonata Arctica and Heavenly.
Christian sounds wonderful as always, and I am very glad he chose not to give up on metal (as briefly mentioned in the interview itself) after his departure from Twilight Force. If he had quit outright the scene would be down an extremely talented singer, and whats more is that I don't think "Welcome to Paradise" would be anywhere near the state it ended in.
The album is anthem after anthem, the music never really dragging with the exception of the ballad "Way of the Light" that does not really fit the general feel of the album and feels awkwardly shoved in to have a ballad for the sake of having a ballad. The track "Everyone's A Star", as far as I know originally inteded to be a Japanese-only bonus track, sticks out like a sore thumb in the middle of the album as track eight - I much would have preferred for it to stay a bonus track rather than a second song to skip during the album proper. Lyrical themes run the gamut of uplifting topics without fantasy lyrics, taking a page straight out of Lost Horizon's book from way back when with a hint of Freedom Call splashed around here and there.
Overall I'm impressed. I feel like I've been transported back to 2004, and this album wouldn't be out of place sitting on a record store's shelf right next to Reckoning Night. While this album doesn't really tread new ground, it does what it does exceptionally and really accomplishes what Bill set out to do - go back to the so-called "Golden Age" of power metal and make an album that would really trade punches with the greats of the time.
Favorite Track(s): Sirens' Fall, Bring Down the Mountain, Playing With Fire