Neonfly – “Strangers in Paradise”


strangers_in_paradise_e2eNeonfly return with their second full length album, a follow up to the acclaimed Outshine the Sun, bringing another album of European power metal that aims “for the gap between rock and metal.”

The London-based band Neonfly released their debut in 2008, with the ep Clever Disguise.  Their first full length, Outshine the Sun was released in 2011 and received a good bit of critical acclaim.  In between albums, the band played a number of live shows, opening up for the like of Alice Cooper and Dragonforce.

“Whispered Dreams” opens up the album and from the very beginning, announces that Strangers in Paradise will be a power metal album with lush arrangements and strong melodies. Once the song gets into full swing the musicianship of the band shows clear with the trade-off guitar solos from  Frederick Thunder and Andy Midgley solid rhythm section and smooth but strong vocals from Willy Norton.

“Highways to Nowhere” took me a bit by surprise with its opening acoustic guitar abruptly leading into a crunchy, heavy guitar riff and vocals that are decidedly more metal and forceful than in the opening track.  As in the opening track there are prominent keyboards at times in the song that provide a nice contrast to the heavier guitars and at other times provide some melodic support.

Shifting gears yet again, “Better Angels” which appears to be the first single from the album goes in yet another direction, veering into the territory of commercial-radio friendly hard rock.  Guitars become less prominent, less heavy in tone and vocals and choruses take on a syrupy sweetness.  Continuing in the softening of the sound, the next song, “Rose in Bloom” is the first of the power ballads on the album, sounding much like the ones many of us heard in the 80’s.

“Heart of the Sun” returns the band to a heavier overall sound but features a keyboard opening and an overall softer feel than “Highways to Nowhere”, mostly due to the prominence of the keyboards in the arrangement.  This trend continues with “Aztec Gold” as the band veers closer to symphonic territory.  Things get a bit more metal and harder in “Fierce Battalions” once the keyboard-heavy intro ends and the guitars become more prominent.  This song also features some sections with fast double bass from Boris Le Gal on drums that add to the metal feel, but again there are some extended sections dominated by the keyboards and even some atmospheric type interludes that precede the guitar solos before the song heads back into heavier territory.  The album ends on a quiet note with the second power ballad “Falling Star” complete with mostly acoustic guitar, symphonic elements, and soaring choruses.

For those looking for strong melodies and arena-oriented power metal, Neonfly certainly bring the tracks.  Production is very clean, bordering on overproduced and the mix is clear, allowing all the instruments to be heard as one would expect in the genre.  Likewise, musicianship is excellent, vocals strong, and the band clearly has a lot of talent.  I imagine the band sounds very different live and it would be interesting to see how their live set compares to “Strangers in Paradise”.  For my ears, there is too much variation in the tone and heaviness of the tracks to the point where it seemed like they could almost be from different bands or be a collection of tracks from a band’s career where you hear the sound mature over time.  This is only their second full length album, so it will be interesting to see the direction the band chooses in the future.

Rating: 6.5/10

Written by John Jackson

01. Whispered Dreams
02. Highways to Nowhere
03. Better Angels
04. Rose in Bloom
05. Heart of the Sun
06. Aztec Gold
07. Fierce Battalions
08. Sons of Liberty
09. Chasing the Night
10. Falling Star

Band Members
Willy Norton – Vocals
Frederick Thunder – Guitars
Andy Midgley – Guitars
Paul Miller – Bass
Boris Le Gal – Drums

Record Label: Inner Wound Recordings, Nov. 2014

Weblinks: Facebook / Twitter  / Website

Buy the album here:
Holland: First Paradox
Norway: Nordic Mission

Video for ‘Better Angels’

Lyric video for ‘Heart of the Sun’


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