Narnia – Desert Land

Spread the metal:

Reviewed: March 2001
Released: 2001, Nuclear Blast
Rating: 3.0/5
Reviewer: EvilG

Neo-classical melodic metal describes this Swedish outfit. This band is a Christian metal band and yes they have a Christian message in their lyrics. However, this is not childlike drivel like “Jesus, Jesus, you are the one for me!” It’s a bit more sophisticated then being the antithesis of Deicide. Never is their “message” blatant and forced down the listener’s throat. For that reason I can take it and I don’t feel like I’m being preached to for the entire CD. Lyrically the band takes it’s inspiration from author C.S. Lewis from the Narnia Chronicles. Apparently these fantasy books are Christian allegories. When I read them, as a child I had no idea…it was just cool stories of talking Lion’s, witches and a wardrobe that was a gateway to another land hmmm.

I had heard Narnia’s 1999 album LONG LIVE THE KING only in passing once or twice back when it came out. From what I remember of it, this CD is pretty much in line with what was on that except there are some heavier moments on DESERT LAND. The first song on the CD that grabbed my attention was “The Witch And The Lion” which begins with a riff similar to Yngwie’s “War To End All Wars.” Even the solo, in terms of tone and with the sweeping arpeggios, sounds like Yngwie! It’s clear that guitarist Carljohan Grimmark would not be the player he is if it wasn’t for his love of Yngwie J. Malmsteen. He’s not a total rip off, but anyone who says he doesn’t sound like Yngwie is lying to themselves! At least Carljohan did a phenomenal job of producing this CD, unlike the blunder in the production area that Yngwie made with his latest CD, WAR TO END ALL WARS. It’s when Narnia sound most like they are in Yngwie-mode that I like them the best. The other strong song on here is “The Light At The End Of The Tunnel” which is a
Yngwie-ish sounding instrumental filled with some great intro riffs and solos. The band’s bio claims that Dio-era Sabbath is also an influence. Well on the very cool track “Walking The Wire” I hear a cross between Yngwie and early Dio (ie. We Rock). Another band that I hear in Narnia is their fellow countrymen, Lion’s Share. This means that when they are not doing the Yngwie thing you hear them playing slow-paced melodic prog/power metal. The songs that fall into this mold are “Falling From The Throne” which is a slow, grooving hard rocker and “Trapped In This Age” with more with slow, melodic riffs. The album’s other instrumental is “Misty Morning.” This one is not an all out shred-fest, but instead reminds me of something from one of Vinnie Moore’s early albums in a big way! There are only two weak songs on this CD and they are the sappy ballad “Revolution Of Mother Earth” and “Angels Are Crying” which is a slow 80’s sounding hard rock song…a bit repetitive.

This band is solid, they have some good songs, they are all very good musicians but they have yet to stand on their own. They wear their influences a little too prominently. If you are a big fan of neo-classical metal/hard-rock then you will love this. If you are a little more selective then check out Yngwie, older Vinnie Moore and Lion’s Share first.


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