2018 release from Frontiers Records srl.
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Ronnie Romero – Vocals. Nozomu Nakai – Guitar. Marco Mendoza – Bass. Tommy Aldridge – Drums.
Japan (Wakai). Chile (Romero). USA (Mendoza and Aldridge).
- Metal Souls.
- The End Of Love.
- Promised Land.
- Take Me Home.
- Raise Your Fist.
- Be A Hero.
- Cross The Line.
- Judgement Day.
- Ready For Rock.
While on a recent trip to Australia I popped into a local music store. I normally don’t find anything of interest in mainstream music stores these days, but on this occasion I saw the new album from Nozomu Wakai’s Destinia. Had a lot of driving to do so thought I’d give it a go. I am bloody glad I did. ‘Metal Souls’ is Nozomu’s third album. I honestly had never heard of the kid until. Shame on me. With an elite rhythm section of Marco Mendoza and Tommy Aldridge, vocal sensation Ronnie Romero and renowned producer Fredrik Nordstrom, Nozomu has some heavy hitters to add to his own six-string arsenal. Based on the name Destinia and the cover/logo, I was fully expecting a neo-classical Yngwie inspired shred fest, not that that is bad at all (if done right), but I was surprised to find an album full of high class European-styled melodic metal. With a touch of neo-classical shred.
Nozomu and co. get straight into it with the title track. It absolutely roars from the get go with a power metal vibe that made me think of one of my favorite bands of that genre, Black Majesty. Ronnie’s vocals are immense and a perfect complement to the riff. A brief keyboard intro leads us into ‘Rain’ before the song ignites with a searing lead break akin to Dare’s classic ‘Heartbreaker’. Hearing quite a bit of early Dare in general on this super melodic track. A couple of full throttle metallic rockers are up next with ‘The End Of Love’ and ‘Promised Land’, both exhibiting touches of neoclassical and a sound that reminds me of Mats Leven era At Vance. Very tasteful soloing on both tracks. No overplaying here, just a great awareness for melody.
That awareness is accentuated on the most commercial track of the album, ‘Take Me Home’, one of the singles and videos released from the album (see the link for it near the top of the page under the Media heading). A soaring, uplifting, mid-tempo rocker that gives me the same feeling I get when I hear the spectacular ‘Little Drops Of Heaven’ from Pretty Maids. Very special indeed. Gang vocals are at the fore in the chorus of the Dio-esque hard rocker ‘Raise Your Fist’ before the band head into the back half of the album. Buckle in for a bombastic ride. From ‘Be A Hero’ through to ‘Judgement Day’ there is a wonderful feast of full tilt melodic metal. Elements of Firewind, Dream Evil, Edguy and Dragonland are strewn throughout these tracks, with Wakai’s soulful, melodic soloing and Ronnie’s terrific vocals taking each to heady heights. The album ends with the majestic, heavy rocker ‘Ready To Rock’. The chorus is an absolute melodic delight. An incredibly catchy, stunning song.
Some of these tracks have been featured on Wakai’s previous albums. I could only find a couple of those on YouTube to compare to, such as ‘Ready To Rock’, and the versions on ‘Metal Souls’ are superior in my opinion. Partly from the huge production that Nordstrom has given this album. I’ve always loved the sound on the Dream Evil albums and Fredrik has brought that to ‘Metal Souls’. It sounds massive and exactly how an album of this style should sound. While the performances from all involved are exceptional, hearing Nozomu’s playing for the first time has been a joy. When the leader of a band is the guitarist, in particular in this genre of rock/metal, there is the risk that the focus will be on the shredding rather than the songs. That definitely has not happened here. Wakai has made the song the star, allowing his fellow musicians to shine, all the while laying down melodic, instantly memorable riffs interspersed with lead work that comes from the heart rather than “how many notes in a second” playbook. I cannot wait to hear more from him as this is a great album.
Rating: 95 out of 100.