Genre: Hard Rock
Record Label: Livewire/Cargo Records
Release Date: Out Now
Links: Nubian Rose Official
Sofia Lilja Åkerlund – Vocals
Christer Åkerlund – Lead guitar
Simeon Liljegren – Bass
Thomas Weijnesjö – Drums
2. Time Again
3. Illuminated Within
4. The Eye
5. Tough Guys Don’t Dance
6. Break Out
8. You Will Never Walk Alone
9. (Taking This) Further
10. All Of Your Love
Having been around for a little over three years now, Swedish band Nubian Rose have already made a good name for themselves on the back of a well received debut album ‘Mountain’ which was full of energetic, heavy riffing, melody driven, Hard Rock.
This so called difficult second album is anything but and sees Nubian Rose stepping up many levels to deliver an altogether tighter and more focussed follow up. The band, which revolves around the magnetic charisma and majestic voice of Sofia Lilja, combined with the unique talent of guitarist Christer Åkerlund, has undergone a few line up changes to get to this point and every change seems to have been for the better.
The opening four minute salvo of drums and vocals on ‘War’ leave the listener in no doubt of the bands intentions. People often talk about face melting solos from guitarists but wait until you hear what Sofia’s voice can do. She is note perfect with a range that works as well at the lower end (as on the into to ‘Illuminated Within’ ) as it does when she is happily taking the roof off the building. It’s no wonder that both guitar and drums have been pulled forward in the mix to balance out the power in her voice.
‘Time Again’ continues with another driving slab of rock with a pounding drum beat, catchy vocals that keep you humming along and classy guitar riffs from Christer. It’s the longest track on the album at just over six minutes and for those that think catchy rock numbers should clock in at under four minutes, listen to this. Not a dull moment in it and instead of wishing the 12″ extended mix was available to keep the song going, the track is perfect and deserves to be played on radio in full. ‘Break Out’ is another riff led driving rocker which makes you yearn for the open road, the roof down and the foot firmly pressed down as hard as it can be.
What though of the slower numbers? Female fronted hard rock…. surely that means we are expecting ballads as well as the harder numbers? Yes and No. Sofia’s voice contains such power it always seems it is waiting to burst through to the next level and on ‘Higher’ that is no different. It’s one of the gentler numbers on the album and shows that she can soften her voice and approach when necessary but you find you are simply waiting for the power to kick back in and thankfully by the mid point and the main guitar solo, she has turned all of her dials back up to ten plus one and the song is all the better for it. As the oft quoted movie line states “with great power comes great responsibility” and thankfully Sofia times the delivery perfectly and doesn’t ever go overboard which makes her delivery seem effortless and assured rather than forced. Quite a feat and one that will stand the band in good stead on future releases as well. ‘You Will Never Walk Alone’, another number that hints at a slower number again draws the listener in before pushing out the high notes and is reminiscent of Heart in their 80s heyday.
With so many quality releases coming from Sweden and the surrounding countries these days, releases need to be something special and stand shoulder to shoulder with their peers. Thankfully Nubian Rose do not disappoint. Along with the excellent production work from Christer which gives everything a much bigger budget feel, the band have also smartly utilised the skills of Swedish superproducer, Tobias Lindell (HEAT, Europe, Hardcore Superstar, Avatar, Mustasch) to once again complete the mixing. Christer’s production puts the Hard into Hard Rock and ensures that the sound is as big as possible; the drums and guitars dominate but not overly so to allow the melody and vocal skills to shine and sit comfortably. It speaks volumes of the songwriting partnership of Christer and Sofia as neither is forcing their own needs above the other but instead finding exactly the right balance. It’s a very mature approach for such a young band and on that sees them taking a big step forward that has already garnered rave reviews from the critics again.
There’s no reason why the band cannot be mentioned in the same breath as H.E.A.T, Eclipse and other top drawer peers from Sweden. All that remains now is to see them live and that can be done when they return to the UK on February 4th at the Barfly in Camden with Mia Klose.
Written by Adrian Hextall
Ratings Adrian 8/10