On 2nd August 2019, Narnia released their 8th Studio album “From Darkness to Light”. Founded by guitarist Carl Johan Grimmark and singer Christian Liljegren back in 1996, the Swedish band reunited in 2014 after its hiatus in 2010. This album is produced and primarily written by Narnia’s guitar virtuoso CJ Grimmark. It is mixed by the band’s sound engineer Viktor Stenquist, and mastered by Jens Bogren, Fascination Street Studios.
The band is widely known for their progressive sound, odd time signatures and cut throat guitar melody. Their songs are influenced by the works of “The Chronicles of Narnia – By C.S. Lewis”. It is being said that keyboardist Martin Härenstam, holds the calibre of a solo virtuoso in the band. Jonatan Samuelsson who recently joined on Bass duties and background vocals, plays the Taurus bass pedal, and helps with the songwriting and graphic designing of the album. Their last tour of Brazil was a success and they carried over the same energy into writing this album.
To be honest, this is the first time I’m listening to Narnia, so I haven’t any biases or idea of what I’m getting into. The staccato opening on “A crack in the sky” filled in with ambient soundscapes and a melodic guitar solo goes on to set my expectation, and boy I love how the song progresses and possesses its audience. The vocals are melodic, the chorus gives you the shrills with the added seconds, and a powerful rhythm section drives the song forward which culminates with an electrifying guitar solo. “You Are The Air That I Breathe” thumps its way forward, building the pace piece by piece. This song sounds straight out of the 70s-80s and has a catchy chorus to its credit.
“The Armor of God” picks up pace as it pelts out a catchy hypnotic riff that’s played out throughout the song. The vocal delivery on this song appears to be influenced by Iron Maiden’s Bruce Dickinson. There are plenty of blitzing guitar solos that are lightning fast and capitalizes on the intro riff, a clean version of the riff on the acoustic piano sets as the outro. “Manifest” builds on an electronica ambient piece which is augmented with a thumping bass eventually bringing forth melody on the guitars. What stands out, is an expressive duelling between the guitar and Keyboard solos each supporting the other.
“The War That Tore The Land” sounds more of a monologue than a song at first, but as it picks up pace and delves into a complex rhythm structure, we hear Hallelujah resonating throughout the song and a guitar solo that accentuates its effect. The next song “Has The River Run Dry?” has strong roots in hard rock but I swear I thought I heard DTs James LaBrie on it, nevertheless the song has a spellbound effect when it reaches the guitar solo which has the potential for repetitive repeats.
“Sail on” pulls on some heavy guitar chugging which progresses fluidly through the breath of the song. What’s amazing is how effortlessly the songs are intertwined, be it for melody filled vocals or the ambient keys or the guitar phrases or the drum rolls finding a perfect spot. There is no crowding and everything falls in beautiful harmony. “I will follow” carries on with the same momentum and takes on an aggressive stance. Listening to Dream Theatre all my life has made my ears sensitive to their style and I couldn’t help myself from hearing their influence on this song. It’s my observation and may only hold true to my ears.
Nearing the end of this marvellous album, is the two part self-titled song “From Darkness To Light”. Part 1 has a beautiful acoustic section with a haunting riff on the keys that captivates the beautiful narrative. As the song flawlessly transcends to the Part 2, an instrumental piece, plethora of melodies layer on and progresses from one bit to the other changing the mood and musical temperament.
Production – The production on this album is perfect, the tones are well balanced and every instrument gets its fair share of limelight.
Conclusion – The song writing is at its best, it’s a very innovative album, with each song having its unique identity keeping the sound fresh and imaginative. I believe the band covered a lot of genres, in this album such as hard Rock, progressive rock, power metal and even melodic metal. What gives this album an ege over the others is its power to captivate its audience. If you haven’t already, I would recommend you Buy this record instantly!
Written by: Ankit Sood
01. A Crack In The Sky
02. You Are The Air That I Breathe
03. Has The River Run Dry
04. The Armor of God
06. The War That Tore The Land
07. Sail On
08. I Will Follow
09. From Darkness to Light (part 1)
10. From Darkness to Light (part 2)
Christian Liljegren – Vocals,
CJ Grimmark – Guitars, vocals
Martin Härenstam – Keyboards
Andreas Johansson – Drums
Jonatan Samuelsson – Bass, vocals
“Long Live The King” (1999)
“Desert Land” (2001)
“The Great Fall” (2003)
“At Short Notice… Live In Germany” (2004)
“Enter The Gate” (2006)
“Decade of Confession” (compilation 2007)
“Course of a Generation” (2009)
“Narnia” (2016) [review]
“From Darkness to Light” (2019)
Release Date: August 2nd 2019
Video for ‘You Are The Air That I Breathe’
Video for ‘A Crack In The Sky’