The Sacred Talisman (Century Media)
by Scott Hefflon
I love the looks of bewilderment I get from my fellow metal-elitist friends when I admit to having a big ol’ soft spot for great melodic metal. Classic metal-inspired “powermetal” bands who utter the shocking phrase “heavy metal” with nary a self-conscious need to look politely away as the listener wonders how best to get out of the conversation. And Nocturnal Rites, like Stratovarious, Gamma Ray, Primal Fear, Hammerfall, and others I can’t think of off the top of my head, give me the thrill I used to get (and get again, now that they stopped sucking) listening to Helloween.
Poppy, melodic, uplifting metal with simple, pristine rhythms and major-key solos spiraling and performing death-defying mid-air stunts always puts a smile on my face. I have no idea what Anders is singing about, but it sounds positive and kinda mystical, perhaps about keys and paths and signs and shit – these guys seem to love that stuff. “Destiny Calls,” “Free at Last,” and (slightly harder to work into casual conversation) “Fire Comes to Ice” are anthems to bellow goofily with arms locked with fellow wasteland wanderers with thirsts to quench, be it with ale or a wench, looking for a good time and things to break.
(1453-A 14th St. #324 Santa Monica, CA 90404)