Nostradameus - Hellbound
AFM Records
Power Metal
10 songs (49'30)
Release year: 2004
Nostradameus, AFM Records
Reviewed by Marty
Sweden's Nostradameus are back with their fourth album and an all important one at that. Although they play a solid brand of melodic and sometimes speedy power metal that is heavy with lots of galloping and chunky riffs, I've never considered them to be much more than a slightly above average band. The speedy power metal style has been done to death; to the point where originality is a rarity anymore. Although a solid sounding band, they've really not stood out from the countless others in the genre. To compound things, previous efforts fell short as far as the vocal performance by Freddy Persson. If you're going to play this sort of metal then you'd better have the kind of vocalist to keep up with the competition. With Hellbound, Nostradameus presents us here with a new approach that is blend of heavy metal that still is firmly rooted in the Priest, Accept, Primal Fear vein with a touch of the Helloween speediness but shows a departure to a more atmospheric style along the lines of Falconer and even elements of the Angel Dust sound. In stark contrast to previous albums, the prominent and heavy riffing as well as a thrash metal aggressiveness represents a significant departure for the band in what is their heaviest release to date. Freddy Persson's vocals show a vast improvement in style and strength of delivery and they fit very well with the direction they've taken with this album.

Using thrash metal flavored riffs and a great chunky heavy sound, the first track Never Turning Back is a prime example of the new heavier direction that Nostradameus has chosen for this album. Your Betrayal continues with the pounding heavy thrash metal influence and shows a likeness to Judas Priest with it's hypnotic riffs and is topped off by a big chanting chorus. The Reaper's Image shows elements of the band's speedier melodic style as on previous albums but the overall intensity in the guitar riffs is cranked up a notch or two resulting in a huge speedy melodic power metal track. The use of reflective refrain passages having an Angel Dust style vocal delivery over killer heavy guitar presents a more careful attention to detail in song arrangements this time around and is used in several places throughout this album. Chunky as well as galloping palm-muted power metal dominates songs like Hellbound, Cuts Like Blades, Seven, Our World To Live In and I Am Free with several having a Lost Horizon feel. Freddy Persson even sings in the style of Daniel Heiman in several instances throughout the album. One Step Away shows Sonata Arctica similarities not only in the speedy sound but with the big huge melodic chorus that's so indicative of the Finnish power metal sound. The guitars are tuned down a step for the song Fight; giving the track a solid chunky sound and the more melancholy vocal style is one of several instances throughout the album where a strong Falconer-like edge can be found.

I really like this album a lot. I almost had to force myself to listen to it as I was not expecting anything exceptional after their The Third Prophecy album. I'm pleased and surprised to say that this is definitely the best album I've heard from this band to date. Others may argue but I find the heavier sound a refreshing change. There's nothing groundbreaking or original about this album but it's simply a very solid and great sounding power metal album and one that I can definitely recommend to fans of the genre. Lots of variety as well as far superior and more consistent songwriting and better arrangements make for a much better album than previous efforts. This is a very positive sign that the band has finally found a style that they are not only comfortable with but plays into the strengths of vocalist Freddy Persson. Although there are huge improvements with the vocals, I still feel that they need to work more on the choruses to their songs. Many times a great vocal, outstanding riffs and awesome drumming is all in vain due to several lack luster and very average sounding choruses. I hope Nostradameus continues along this path as it seems that change was necessary for the longevity of this band. I think the future definitely looks brighter and if they continue to improve on their shortcomings they way they have on this album over the previous one The Third Prophecy, I expect an even better album next time around.

Killing Songs :
Your Betrayal, The Reaper's Image, One Step Away and Cuts Like Blades
Marty quoted 80 / 100
Other albums by Nostradameus that we have reviewed:
Nostradameus - Pathway reviewed by Mike and quoted 65 / 100
Nostradameus - The Third Prophecy reviewed by Marty and quoted 72 / 100
Nostradameus - The Prophet Of Evil reviewed by Chris and quoted 80 / 100
Nostradameus - Words Of Nostradameus reviewed by Chris and quoted 87 / 100
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