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Nostradameus - "Illusion's Parade" (CD)

Nostradameus - "Illusion's Parade" CD cover image

"Illusion's Parade" track listing:

1. Walk Of Pain (5:08)
2. Art Of Deception (4:02)
3. The Mariner (4:52)
4. Nothing (4:53)
5. Eclipse Of The Sun-Cult (4:38)
6. Broken Soul (Virgin Mary) (10:45)
7. Illusion's Parade (2:17)
8. Armageddon Forever (4:25)
9. Time For Madness (5:16)

Reviewed by on February 19, 2010

"Repeated listening makes clear that this is play-by-numbers power metal."

Music label AFM must have made a strategic decision recently, as they have been churning out a ton of power metal over the past few months (almost one per week thus far in 2010). Quantity over quality rules this AFM power roost; some of the albums are quite good but mostly they are mediocre wastes of time. Nostradameus’ sixth full-length album is the latest in this series, and falls right in the mediocre middle.

The first thing that stands out is the band’s competence. Nostradameus released their first album in 2000 and has been together since 1998, and they are accordingly tight and clearly well rehearsed, with the album running through the power metal roller coaster with ease. Each song is carefully put together, the album is carefully arranged and ordered, and each song has its “thing.”

“Walk of Pain” is the powerful opener, while “Art of Deception” fills the role of surprisingly aggressive follow up. “Nothing” is the introspective-but-still-heavy ballad and “Eclipse of the Sun-Cult” fills the mythology-based flight of fancy role. “Broken Soul” is the progressive and epic centerpiece, but unfortunately it utterly fails; the band’s wrote methodology can’t support an ambitious undertaking like a ten minute song about the politics of religion.

Repeated listening makes clear that this is play-by-numbers power metal. The band was started after vocalist Freddy Persson and guitarist Jake Freden saw a Gamma Ray show and they wanted to emulate their heroes. Well they’ve done that, but not much more. The vocals are dramatic but not outstanding. The guitars move between thrash-based riffs and sweep solos but neither is done crisply enough to really crackle, and the production can’t decide if it is gritty or polished, sinking the entire sound in a washed out morass.

The album isn’t truly awful however, as Nostradameus picked good heroes to follow. Their previous five albums also landed to cool-but-receptive critical reviews, and the same is true here; tired but not awful is the consensus. The debate about whether it is better to imitate greatness to be mediocre or to fail at being original is an unending one, but Nostradameus has clearly been on the side of the former throughout their career. Many folks could create a painting that resembles the Mona Lisa if they had lots of practice and instructions, and that’s all Nostradameus is - a set of power metal instructions packaged into nine songs, and we’ve all heard the easily superior originals.

Highs: The title track is an instrumental interlude and is the most original composition on the album.

Lows: The album might have a fighting chance if the production weren’t so bad.

Bottom line: Poor production utterly dooms this otherwise mediocre power metal rehash.

Rated 2.0 out of 5 skulls
2.0 out of 5 skulls


Key
Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)