NovaReign - Legends - (8/10)
Published on March 21, 2018
God bless the day Americans discovered European power metal. Thinking about bands like Amory, Judicator and Lör, I feel the Yanks of today execute the style with more honesty and creativity than their European counterparts. New contenders in the field are the Southern Californians from NovaReign. This L.A. quintet just released their debut album Legends through M-Theory. They make a blend of technical and melodic metal whose primary influences might be Dragonforce, Blind Guardian and Angra. NovaReign sounds a lot like Nova Era, doesn’t it? Signs of deference aside, these kids are graced with enough skill and songcraft to make it into the great halls of American (Euro) power.
NovaReign have a preference for writing extended compositions which average about 8 minutes in length. Discounting the occasional breaks and pauses, fast tempos predominate throughout the album. The music is slightly more riff-driven than your average power metal. Without wandering out of the paradigm of melodic cheese, the guitarists command respect through their constant elaboration upon basic patterns. The result is a collection of well-flowing songs which never fail to deliver that rush we all seek from power metal. Also calling our attention are the acrobatic vocals of David Marquez. His melodic delivery reminds me of Edu Falaschi, with an equal tendency towards strain in the higher registers. Except on a few occasions where his efforts fall on the wrong side of tasteful, he provides a fine complement to the record’s searing guitar leads.
The songs on Legends fall into two categories. The first four tracks are basically cut from the same cloth. Containing multiple tasty fragments, they do not deviate from the standard ABABCAB song structure. That makes me wonder whether NovaReign really deserve that “progressive” power tag. “Skyline” is a step in the right direction. The songwriting remains somewhat predictable, but in classic Blind Guardian fashion, the band at least knows how to vary its (second and third) verses. The last three tracks are definitely the best. “The Builder” recalls Orden Ogan in its creative simplicity, while “Black As The Dead Of Night” and the lengthy title-track dazzle you once more with elaborate leads and passionate vocals.
NovaReign’s debut clearly shows a lot of promise. The band members are very talented and their songs are both thrilling and memorable. I have only offered minor points of criticism because I think NovaReign might be capable of something more adventurous in the future. With slightly more restrained vocals and a more varied approach to song structure, they might become legends in their own right.