Narnia were formed in 1996 by Christian Liljegren (vocals) and CJ Grimmark (guitar). In 2008, Christian Liljegren left for personal reasons and was replaced by Germán Pascual for ‘Course Of A Generation’ (2009). The band had by this time released six studio albums, one compilation album and a live CD and DVD. Their style has been compared to Kamelot, Royal Hunt, Yngwie Malmsteen and In Flames. At the start of 2010 CJ Grimmark made the decision to put Narnia on indefinite hiatus. The break went on to last for nearly four years.
In late 2013, CJ Grimmark and Christian Liljegren started discussing a possible reunion and the idea of making another Narnia album. On 31 January 2014, the band announced it’s return. They celebrated the 15th anniversary of the classic album ‘Long Live the King’, by getting Narnia back on the road for a few shows. The line-up for their seventh studio album was Christian Liljegren (vocals), CJ Grimmark (guitars, keyboards & backing vocals), Andreas “Habo” Johansson (drums), Martin Härenstam (keyboards) and Andreas Passmark (bass). The new, self-titled full length album will be released worldwide on CD, Vinyl LP and on digital formats on 16 September 2016.
It starts with a gloriously overblown romp, ‘Reaching For The Top’ as they declare “We rock, we go, we’re reaching for the top / We rock, we go, we’re never gonna stop”. It’s a joyous explanation of why they make music and tour. And then they throw in a trademark Grimmark guitar solo for good measure too. Next there is ‘I Still Believe’ with its statement of faith in the chorus with Liljegren’s impassioned vocals. “I still believe in the Maker / One by one, we all must bow down / I still believe in the Father, the Son and the Fire / Burning on, I still believe”.
Slowing the pace further, ‘On The Highest Mountain’, follows on with their mission statement. “Twenty years ago the call / To be a voice for the man who gave it all / Jesus Christ, The son of God / The solid rock, The Lion´s roar / We are here through it all”. It is also remarkable for the extended fret-burning guitar solo that dominates the latter half of this track.
There is an atmospheric, worshipful opening to ‘Thank You’ with its tender vocals. Just when you think that it is going to remain calm, it leads to a spine-tingling crescendo of riffs. They ramp up the pace and intensity for ‘One Way To The Promised Land’ as it smoulders. “Hail the truth, face the lie / By the cross it must die / There is one, only one way to the promised land”.
By this point, you realise that they are not compromising on the expression of christian faith as they spell it out in ‘Messengers’. There are several time changes in ‘Who Do You Follow?’ as they continue to ram it home with force. The tempo quickens as ‘Moving On’ sees a sense of immediacy. “God, see my heart, I´m starving for your love / God, let me be a man and follow your plan”.
Determined not to go out without a fight, they want to ‘Set The World On Fire’. This is another blistering attack “Come with me / You will see / Freedom in Christ, for you and me / We were all meant to be / By His holy majesty”.
It leaves you on a high note and made me wonder where I would place it in my list of top albums for this year. As I listen to a lot of albums, this is no idle boast. Yes it is that great.
The Lion roars again!
Reviewed by Peter John Willoughby
1. Reaching For The Top
2. I Still Believe
3. On The Highest Mountain
4. Thank You
5. One Way To The Promised Land
7. Who Do You Follow?
8. Moving On
9. Set The World On Fire
Christian Liljegren – Vocals
CJ Grimmark – Guitars, keyboards & backing vocals
Andreas “Habo” Johansson – Drums
Martin Härenstam – Keyboards
Andreas Passmark – Bass
Recorded by CJ Grimmark at Area 52, Sweden
Additional drum recordings by Andreas “Habo” Johansson at
Gruvan Studios, Stockholm, Sweden.
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)
Record Label: Deep Within Management, Sept. 2016
Weblinks: Website / Facebook / Twitter
Buy the album here:
Holland: First Paradox
Norway: Nordic Mission
Video below: ‘Reaching For The Top’