The debut record from LA power metal band Novareign is a serious force. At over an hour in length, it is a relentless aural assault of speed and shred. “Legends” takes significant influence from the hyperspeed power metal pioneered by Dragonforce, but amps up the focus on riffing considerably. In this respect, Novareign strongly resemble another American band: Cellador. Unsurprisingly, one should expect an album where the guitars just don’t let up. Even when Novareign takes a step down from warp speed, their riffs, leads, and solos still defy logic. Truthfully, this is a guitar players’ album. If you listen to songs just waiting for the solos (and I honestly do for most music), then this record will keep your jaw on the floor for its entire runtime. Sweeping, tapping, and probably a thousand other techniques: this album has it all.
The only way to match inhuman guitar playing, is with an equally over the top vocalist. Once again, Cellador comparisons run rampant because Novareign’s singer just goes for it. He’s not as technically refined as most of his European counterparts. Sometimes he might sound a little flat or sharp, but it’s impossible to deny his sheer enthusiasm and willingness to scream out his lungs at any time. For this type of music, there really isn’t a better style of singer out there.
Reading between the lines may have led you to identify the problem with this record: it’s too much all the time. Four of these tracks near or exceed the 9-minute mark. Every single one of them is jam-packed with an onslaught of impressive guitar acrobatics and melodic wailing. To Novareign’s credit, there are many memorable lines, but it’s just so excessive. Sometimes they start to run thin on ideas (such as “Mace of a Fist” having an incredibly awkward breakdown riff shortly after the 7-minute mark), or the riffs blend together. To be fair, there are no shortage of great moments either. The aforementioned track has insane guitar wizardry, as does the intro to “Beyond The Cold”. “Skyline” is perhaps the catchiest tune on the album, while “Black As The Dead of Night” has a stellar “whoa-oh” section (something that every band should do more often!).
When all is said and done, “Legends” is a truly ambitious album from an ambitious band. This isn’t a record you can sit down and listen to once to fully appreciate. It is fairly one-dimensional, but it has so much content to offer that at least a few tracks are sure to stand out. It would be better if the songs were reined in by at least a few minutes (or even cutting 1 or 2 longer tracks), but as it stands, “Legends” remains a fairly remarkable effort.
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“Beyond The Cold”
4.0/5 or 80%.