Reviewed: February 2014
Released: 2013, Spiritual Beast
Reviewer: Metal-Rules.com UK Team
Formed in 2009 and hailing from Perú this is NAUTILUZ’s debut album. ‘Leaving All Behind’ was released in 2013 giving us 11 power metal tracks to choose from. Though how you can choose I just have no idea. I must admit that when I sat down to review this album I wasn’t expecting to be blown away, but within the very first minute my eyes were literally wide open. This band is not mucking about in any sense. This is easily one of the best recent power metal albums I’ve listened to in a long time.
The short instrumental ‘Somniac Lifeline’ kicks things off with pure cinematic sound. There are so many elements and instrumental sounds being brought together here. It’s loud, clear and very dramatic, leading you to only one place – adventure. From just this short track I’m eager to hear everything else; it gives you that feeling of wanting to race through it as quickly as possible so as to absorb all the other good sections now. After such a cinematic introduction, ‘Under The Moonlight’ hits you in the face with the its directness and speed. As with my first impression of the band, this song is not messing around – it came to do a job and it’s going to do it. It makes me, for want of a better word….happy! It brings together so many elements I love about power metal; it’s rousing, dramatic and full with gunning drums, speeding steady guitar riffs, and clear certain vocals. There is a real similarity to Sonata Arctica and though I am not implying that this is a copy, you can hear an echo of them here…and it’s good.
To be honest at this point the rest of the album would have had to be really bad to lose any marks, because I‘m already sold.
One of the themes of this album is layers. With every track NAUTILUZ reveal yet another element, another addition to their sound, each bringing more and more to the overall effect. ‘Burning Hearts’ offers a more down and dirty feel. Still the same vocals but delivered in a less controlled way which is very fitting for song given its title. ‘The Mirror’ layers it up one stage further by the use of gunning drums and guitars, that flow into streaming riffs, bringing an altogether meaner element. If this song was a person’s mood you could be left thinking that somewhere, someone may have started to cross a line. Again in the vocals there’s echoes of Tony Kakko and the speed of the synths hitting behind the rest of the instruments adds another dimension and depth.
Peel the album back another layer and ‘Redemption’ is exactly the right word, as a more menacing tone comes to the fore, helped by the addition of deep spoken vocals added later. The piano effect brings a light relief later on taking centre stage, before the track goes into a chase scene of a rhythm from the speed of the guitars and drums. Continue moving forward and ‘Underwritten Serenade’ shows you a very different side in the form of a ballad. I have always found it interesting to hear power metal vocalists sing such songs as it strips away the dramatic showmanship the style allows, leaving a rawer, more honest sound. There’s a surety and presence to Sebastian Flores’ vocals, proving even more than before that he can certainly hold his own. The quiet use of choir vocals that lean into a piano melody and string effect lend a real beatific quality to both this song and the album.
The remaining tracks are also good examples of the layering done throughout this album. They hail back to elements from each of the previous songs, but tweak things to bring a new sound and feel. ‘Eden’s Lair’ retains the muted vocals of the one before, and the heavy emphasis on synths in this track is what adds that layer. Well, not so much adds it, more like smacks you in the face with it as soon as the track starts – it’s a full on attack that despite being more than 4 minutes long is over before you know it.
As I said the layer just continues throughout the album from classic guitars at the start of ‘Scent of Lust’, to the inspired addition of pianoforte effects in ‘Chasing the Light’. This track throws you back towards the start of the album with cracking riffs, while keeping it fresh and new by the pianoforte effects that keep cheekily popping up. Another curveball appears in ‘The Bard (Antarabhava)’ with monk-like throat singing and chanting are weaved and interspersed between the speedy guitars. It gives you a sense of fighting an evil force and with lyrics including ‘the undead’, I may not be far wrong.
Despite looking I cannot find anything about this album that I do not like and with every track I love this album all the more. There is a real craftsmanship going on here and if this is their debut, then brace yourself for the next one!
Review by Rowena Lamb
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