“We want to bring back the amazing golden years of power metal. Like in the late nineties, when Stratovarius, Helloween, HammerFall and all those bands were at their peak!” So says Brazilian guitarist Bill Hudson, co-founder of Nuclear Blast’s new power metal sensation NorthTale. That’s quite clearly a highly laudable aim, but it’s also an incredibly high bar to place for one’s band before a note has been heard from them. Have they succeeded gloriously or failed miserably? Dear fellow Crusader – read on…

There are moments, most notably on the opening title track, the poppy Everyone’s a Star and the quite superb standout cut Siren’s Fall (which really could have come from a Stratovarius album from the late nineties) when NorthTale absolutely follow through on their lofty promises. The rest of the material ain’t bad either, I have to say, but it’s lagging a bit in the bid to make good the grandiose claims of that opening statement of intent from Hudson.

Bring Down the Mountain strays from the path a little – here the band go in for a sort of neo-classical/Painkiller mashup that isn’t quite right for former Twilight Force throat Christian Eriksson’s tonsils – but for the most part this is, indeed, classic Euro power metal from start to finish. Hudson shreds his heart out – you’re never more than thirty two bars away from some sort of arpeggiated sweep action, one feels – and former Yngwie drummer Patrick Johansson puts in just the sort of earth-shaking double kick tour de force you’d expect on every track. Likewise keyboardist Jimmy Pitts puts in a huge shift on the ivories – Jens Johansson‘s classic Strato-work comes to mind often.

Tracks like Playing With Fire carry the somewhat otherworldly, anthemic punch of Eriksson’s former band Twilight Force, but for the most part this is straightforward, headbanging power metal that’ll you’ll love or hate depending on your already established musical proclivities. This album isn’t going to change anybody’s world – but it damn well rocks mine, and sometimes that’s enough!

Welcome To Paradise is out on July 4th.