Released: 2009, Massacre
I was disappointed to hear that after 14 years Narnia is calling it quits. A career spanning over a decade, six studio albums, a live platter and a best-of, that’s not a bad run by any definition. It comes as a bit of a shock after the band just released their sixth and perhaps strongest album. However hindsight is 20-20 and the significant stylistic change on the new album, COURSE OF A NEW GENERATION, may have foreshadowed a band in turmoil. A new vocalist, and a newer sound, and a slightly darker image, might have been a last ditch attempt to keep the fires burning. Either way, I will be sad to see them go.
Narnia certainly left the game on a high note. This release is faster and darker than anything they have done. I was a big fan of the Yngwie-esque, squeaky-clean sound, tone and production of the previous releases so this to me comes as a shock. Not a bad shock, mind you - it is very different than the previous albums. A die-hard Narnia fan might not like the newer sound, so be warned! In my estimation, metal fans in general will appreciate the heavier, faster sound.
Starting from the top, the cover art, the lion/mascot that has graced all the previous studio albums is gone. That would be your first clue. The album itself is much darker looking, it could even pass for a Death Metal album cover! The first key, important, musical difference is the new voice of German Pascal. He is an excellent vocalist and was a worthy successor to Christian. Changing front-men is never easy but Pascal has the range and power to pull it off. He sings lower than Christian and his voice is perhaps not quite as bright and clear but still great nonetheless.
The songs are certainly more straight-ahead metal, much less emphasis on keyboards than previous outings. When keyboards are used they sound different, much more ‘modern’ than prior albums. They add almost a tiny dare I say it ‘techno’ flair rather than the sweeping keys before. However, enough comparing to the past. This album certainly stands on its own merit. This is by far the heaviest album they have done. The guitars are certainly upfront instead of competing with keyboards. This is an somewhat uncharacteristic album for the band and will likely be the dark-horse in their catalogue, but it still kicks ass. If the older albums were too fast and frilly or ‘power-metally’ for some fans, they should take one last chance to check out this band.