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To tell the truth, I never would've bought a Nostradameus album, if it wasn't available for ultra-cheap price. I thought to give this, which I got for under 5 Euros, a try, because I remember liking the samples I've heard earlier. 'The Prophet of Evil' is the band's sophomore album from the bunch of five.
The first spin left me with an impression, that Nostradameus have nothing of their own in their music, but at least everything was enjoyably performed. Some spins later I have to admit, that there's not much of Nostradameus's own in the music, if anything. Power metal is the path the band have chosen, and while partly sounding very Swedish indeed, two German bands come to my mind while listening to this: Helloween and Gamma Ray. Swift paced songs, that are very catchy yet still vary from straight ones to more complex compositions, played with a lot of energy. It's a real joy to listen to the band's performance, let me tell you. Guitars (hammering riffage, heroic harmonies, wicked solos, luscious lead work, screaming screetches, you name it!), they are everywhere, just like bass and drums creating the backbone of the music. And there is no keyboards on the album, just piano on the slow song, so it kind of makes this a bit rawer. What Nostradameus do wrong (or right, because this could prove to be a dilemma here) is that the end result sounds too familiar, but thankfully this is not the case throughout the album. Where first two real songs 'Hymn to These Lands' and 'Evil Prophecies' are more on the happy-happy side, 'Murder' turns the album to darker and 'Requiem...' is a good balladish piano/guitar song with some really good singing. 'In Prison' starts with a very Amon Amarth-esque riff, but turns into another power metal song, with Falconer style feel. 'The Escape' and 'The Power's in Your Hand' are neo-classical style songs, and I do not really like this particular style, but the songs are okay, thanks to wild playing and good heavy metal riffs they both contain. 'Gathering Resistance' is Gamma Ray / Iron Savior kind of balls-to-the-wall headbanger. 'The Final Battle' is nicely built epic song packed with many styles and emotions, making it easily one of the highlights on this album. Europe-cover 'Scream of Anger' is a fucking kick-ass version, really, so seek for a version with it!
Vocals are good, not typical clean helium-stuff, but something like a mixture between Kai Hansen and Ralf Scheepers. Okay, Freddy Persson hits high notes easily, but there's edge to his voice, too many times missing on a power metal vocalist's voice. Of course there's choirs on these songs, or what do you expect from power metal, eh?! The lyrics tell a story of a prophet who by lying dethrones king's heir and then it's time for payback... It's a bit boring story, nothing original in it, but at least it makes the music varying with its different emotions during it.
Judging by this album, Nostradameus are another band who are mere followers and not reformers in this genre. However, there is something that makes this band stand different when compared to a million and one similar bands: These guys really rock! And beside that, they really can make a good tune or two. 'The Prophet of Evil' is a nice album for those who search for power metal played in the similar way as the two aforementioned legends, so why not give it a go, as you can be mislead with so many releases today.
(originally written for ArchaicMetallurgy.com in 2007)
I’m not one to bow down and take part in the worship of the whole Gothenburg metal scene, like any other metal heavy rich area on the planet; it has spawned its fair share of amazing and abominable bands. But if nothing else, it is the last place where you’d expect a band to achieve the status of being both amazingly good yet underrated. Most of what comes out of this scene is either justifiably praised, unjustifiably praised, or rightly condemned for the musical trite that it is; but in the case of Nostradameus, they’ve managed to buck the general trend and have achieved a fourth status of sorts for this either underrated or overrated, yet obviously well known metal scene.
The brand of metal they play is on the heavier side of things, bringing up images of Gus G’s 2 non-Dream Evil projects of consequence. But unlike Mystic Prophecy or Firewind, the character of their style is extremely epic, although with more of a thrash-like edge to it rather than the ultra-melodic variety that is reserved for the German and Italian power metal scenes. The production tendencies of their work exemplifies true bone crushing power, yet avoids the ultra-slick modern sound that is indicative of newer bands in the scene such as Masterplan and post-Legacy of Kings Hammerfall. All things considered, this band definitely does well to carve out their own little sound in a very heavily populated genre.
“Prophet of Evil”, the second installment of Nostradameus’ fairly prolific 10 year career is a straight shot of grade A, epic speed metal with little exception. Even when things slow down and the band opts for piano and acoustic guitars to make up the bulk of the song, as is the case in the obligatory ballad “Requiem”, the epic character of the sound endures and the melodic nature avoids becoming either pretentious or comical. The band also makes extremely effective use of background choirs, mostly following the Hammerfall model of a repetitive chant by lower toned voices than the lead vocalist, and resulting in song refrains that keep a sense of balance between the epic and heavy extremes of their sound.
Everything is extremely consistent in terms of quality, although a slight edge goes towards the shorter and faster songs on here. “Evil Prophecies” and “The Power’s in your hands” perfectly exemplify the melodic speed metal character that made Legacy of Kings an absolute classic album and the best in Hammerfall’s extensive catalog. But this band ups the ante pretty significantly in the riff department, and tilts these songs slightly towards a USPM sound. The guitar solo work mostly leans towards the reserved and tasteful side of the coin, showcasing a tendency to choose their notes carefully, while still showcasing a commanding competency over the instrument’s capabilities.
On the other end of the extreme, these guys also show a flair for producing long winded songs that maintain their intrigue throughout. Although I wouldn’t quite go so far as to say that “The Final Battle” is the greatest song to ever break the 10 minute mark, it definitely holds its own and makes for an exciting listen. The acoustic intro has some strong shades of Ritchie Blackmore’s early works with Rainbow, and what follows is a very interesting mix of upper mid tempo majesty, thematic lead guitar lines and epic storytelling. Freddy Persson makes especially good use of his rough edged tenor voice on here with the occasional Harry Conklin moment, and is complemented by some well placed back up vocal chants.
Naturally there is much more that could be said about this highly proficient power metal opus, but I’ll leave it to you to discover the rest for yourself. If you like bands like Messiah’s Kiss, Mystic Prophecy, Firewind, and Lost Horizon then you’ll definitely take a liking to what’s on here. It takes a more epic road than the first three bands and lacks the progressive tendencies of the latter band, but it carries the same aggressive, take no prisoners approach to the power metal style that is often missed by detractors of the genre.