Graveshadow Nocturnal Resurrection 01While the name Graveshadow would suggest a band dabbling in a number of genres, the album art pretty much narrows that list down to a select few. Just seconds into Nocturnal Resurrection and all your wonder transforms into 100% certainty. This album clearly bleeds with the Nightwish-washy inklings of symphonic keys and power-metal attitude. I suppose this makes sense being that this sextet hails from the magical forests of Finlannnn… oh wait.. Sacramento. Not exactly Dr. Grier‘s cup o’ tea and a definite trivia stumper for when your friends draw the “Can you guess where this band is from?” card at your annual holiday party, these Californians dish out their own form of Disney metal that has just enough dimension to give it some potential and avoid a bit of the typical cheese of this style.

“Namesake” opens with some organs and orchestration very much in the vein of… well, every other symphonic metal band. But when Heather Michele’s harsh growls hurl hatred at the mic and the rest of the band shows up with some crunchy riffage, you discover the type of weapon this band has sheathed. Taking on an almost Anette Olzon-beauty in her cleans, Michele drops in harsh vocals to add depth and dimension to the fairly standard songwriting. The band expands on the formula for follow-up “In the Road of Desire” with more alternating vocal work (ranging from Elizabeth Blackwell altos, Olzon highs, and Amy Lee dramatics) and pitching in shovel-fulls of heavy synths, chugging riffs, and a back-end emotion that combines the powerful with the poppy. From here the album progresses into “Lycan Lust;” a straight-up Nightwish number full of orchestration, storytelling, and powerful choruses. The song weaves its way through heavy leads and the emotional builds of the midsection interlude before accelerating and allowing Michele to drop the album’s best written passages. It’s executed well and that extra bit of anger in Michele’s voice adds the perfect cap to the song.

Other catchy choruses include the melodic delivery in “Winter Comes To Call” and the male-female duet of “Blink.” The former is straight-laced but Michele comes to the front and delivers some classic memorability that isn’t offensive, even if it’s not overly novel. The chorus repeats multiple times and right before it takes on a radio-friendly feel, the layered clean and harsh vocals smash it out. The latter utilizes some Ralf Scheepers (Primal Fear) vocals that swing around to tag-team with Michele, resulting in one of the better choruses of the album. On top of that, “Blink” has perhaps the sleekest riff on Nocturnal; charging, chugging, and groovy.

Graveshadow Nocturnal Resurrection 02

However… the cheese on Nocturnal Resurrection cools a bit and becomes quite thick at times; an effect that causes even their better tracks to suffer some pretty cringing moments. While “Lycan Lust” is a good song, the moment where Michele desperately calls out, “run, love, run” doesn’t work and feels so much like Nightwish‘s “The Poet and the Pendulum” that it hurts [Is it any worse than crying out, “run away, run away, run away”?Steel Druhm]. If it wasn’t for her harsh vocals adding something new to the songwriting, my eyes would roll so far back I would be able see my brain (and don’t get me started on that video below). “Fading” is a decent “ballad” but it borders on Evanescence material with its Amy Lee delivery, typical chugging guitars, and a truly poppy chorus (again, thanks goes to the growls for making it bearable). Finally, closer “Blood and Fire” is only memorable for its layered vocals and cathedral-like organs at its conclusion. Otherwise, I find myself tuning-out for most of the song.

Production-wise, I have to hand it to the band. For their debut, the recording and mix are quite good (minus the clipping and so-so DR score). Everyone is present, the orchestration and keys don’t overpower, and it sounds pretty damn professional. I also have to give it to Heather Michele for what success Nocturnal does possess. Her mix of harsh and clean, alto with soprano, and aggressive with beautiful adds some originality to the standard songwriting of the genre and shows some real potential for the band.


Rating: 2.5/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 128 kbps mp3
Label: Mausoleum Records
Websites: www.graveshadow.com | facebook.com/Graveshadow
Releases Worldwide: November 13th, 2015

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  • I love this video. It makes me feel…silly.

    • Dr. A.N. Grier

      That video. Man, it hurts so bad.

      • We need to develop a unicorning video.

        • Dr. A.N. Grier

          We really do. And then another and then another and then another.

          • Pablo Casado Gañarul

            My humble suggestion is a mashup with Emerald Sword, calculated excerpts from my little pony and memes of unicorns, rainbows, power metal covers and RPG cutscenes.

          • Dr. A.N. Grier

            You’re hired.

          • Pablo Casado Gañarul
          • Now you’re fired. You had a good run there.

          • Pablo Casado Gañarul

            I did everything to set untouchable records.

          • Dr. A.N. Grier

            Now THAT is enthusiasm.

          • basenjibrian

            Can we throw in some Furry Fandom “Yiffing”?
            And neckbeards are a requirement!

        • [not a Dr]

          I think I’m repeating myself…
          No one can top Unicorns From Hell: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3yYZa-70u_M

    • El_Cuervo

      The way she dances unnerves me.

      • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

        She’s bouncy in the most unappealing way…

        • Martin Knap

          Symphonic metal allows for a little bouncing…

    • El_Cuervo

      Also, there’s a drinking game there: shot every time she makes invisible oranges. You’d get drunk immediately!

      • Dr. A.N. Grier

        Invisible oranges… fucking brilliant.

        • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

          There’s even a Metal blog named after those (in)famous invisible oranges-

    • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

      I love the video too. It has a certain DIY charm.

  • Kronos

    Holy shit that album cover is so early – 2000s Scooby-Doo.

    • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

      It was Groundskeeper Hilda the whole time, gang!

    • Pablo Casado Gañarul

      At first glance I thought “Jeff Scott Campbell? NO FUCKING WAY, it has to be one of his million clones”… Potato Jesus be praised, my eyes keep working just fine.

    • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

      The only thing missing is the Mystery Machine.

    • Oscar Albretsen

      Gotta say, you’re right on with that analysis. It really does!

  • André Snyde Lopes

    The insectoid mask dude in each side of the website, the unicorgy in the previous review and now this unbelievable music video.

    What the hell am I watching? This blog is slowly destroying my sanity.

  • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

    The beginning was really cool, it sounded like it was going to lead into something that sounds like a metal infused version old hymns like Tyr’s “Grindavisan” (the best song by a mile on ‘Valkyrja’) did, but then they just went with the classic medio-core. That riff in “Namesake” at 1:20 is so stock it hurts. Regardless, great review, Doc. Also I think we should all come to your holiday parties because that game sounds like fun.

    • Dr. A.N. Grier

      My holiday parties are the best. I sit in the corner with a bottle of akvavit and listen to “No Presents for Christmas” on repeat, patiently waiting for everyone to get the hell out of my house.

      • Pimpolho

        Akvavit is the ultimate way to get drunk while being kvlt.

        • Dr. A.N. Grier

          It’s the kvltist of kvlt.

        • Name’s Dalton

          Aqua Velvet?

          • Name’s Dalton

            Wait: Aqva Vvlvvt.

          • Grymm

            No… Vqvv Vvlvvt!!!

          • Name’s Dalton

            Well done.

            Er, Wvll dvnv (although I’m pretty sure done should have umlats).

          • Pimpolho

            This is madness!

    • André Snyde Lopes

      I like the title track better.

      “Most dreams waste away alas
      Mine all have come to pass
      Since I’ve laid my eyes upon my guiding light

      ValkyrjaaaAAAAAAAaaaaaaAAAAAAAAAAAAaaaAAAAAA!”

  • Martijn Brugman

    So, did anyone else notice none of the instruments are plugged in? What is the point of pretending to play the instruments, bring massive amplifier cabinets when you don’t even pretend that they are connected.

    Imagine taking a leasurely Sunday stroll in the autumn sun, hearing some drums in the distance and when you go see what it’s about, you run into these guys pretending to play their instruments.

    Also: crap videos shot at some road in the woods are crap.

    • Innit Bartender

      It has definitely something of early Rhapsody videos…

  • Pimpolho

    You’re all jealous you can’t dance like her. So am i. She should to dance classes.

  • Grymm

    Your party is walking through a somewhat barren forest. All of you encounter four dudes, all carrying instruments, as well as two girls. One of those girls is playing keyboards that aren’t plugged in, and the other is growling and wielding invisible oranges at you. As you sneak up to confront them, another dude pops up out of the bushes with a camera, filming all of you.

    ROLL INITIATIVE.

    • Pablo Casado Gañarul


      UPDATED MY JOURNAL

      • Grymm

        Baldur’s Gate FTW!!!

        • Pablo Casado Gañarul

          I’ve played several hours of ALL of them (Icewind Dale, Baldur’s Gate, Planescape) but I’ll take the modern Bioware/Obsidian approach any day of the week
          PARAGON OR RENEGADE

          • Col_Dax

            Boo and I have to disagree with a swift kick in the morals…

        • Grymm

          Errr… Planescape: Torment, rather.

          Still, INFINITY ENGINE FTW!!!

    • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

      I would change “somewhat barren forest” for “empty lot behind 7-Eleven”

  • I demand a review of the music video.

  • Oscar Albretsen

    Music didn’t strike me as anything special, but even though you mentioned it in the review, I gotta say the chick can growl. Like a FOX!

  • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

    This beauty turned out to be a beast.

  • Come on, surely you can diss a symphonic band without dissing Nightwish:( I’ll just be here in the corner continuing to love Nightwish being the weak mess I am.
    (Just to be clear I do not like this. I cry at the video tbh.)

  • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

    Just from the embedded track, I don’t hear much Nightwish. What I do hear a lot of is Luna Mortis, an extremely underrated band that sadly not much people have heard about. I have to admit that I have barely listened to Nightwish without Tarja, but on this embedded track both music and vocals remind me of Luna Mortis not Nightwish.

    • I’m with you on that. Don’t really hear the Nightwish in this one.

    • Dr. A.N. Grier

      You hear it more in other tracks. She also has an Olson voice, which just makes me think of Nightwish.

      • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

        I figured she might sound like Anette Olzon, that´s why I said I have barely listened to Nightwish without Tarja. That´s probably why this doesn´t sound much like Nightwish to me.

        • Dr. A.N. Grier

          Yeah, that’s pretty much the comparison. But there are a couple tracks where the synths sound very Nightwishy. Overall, they did a good job trying not to be a complete copycat… But theres still a lot there…

  • Wilhelm

    I think this would have been better if I hadn’t seen the video.

  • Carlos Marrickvillian

    Is that a Brave Sir Robin reference being dropped by Steel Druhm? Or am I in an early state of delusion and seeing Monty Python references everywhere…

    • That works too but I was referring to the mega-cheeseball chorus on Sonata Arctica’s “Full Moon.”

  • basenjibrian

    The Big Tomato! Hotbed of Epic Power Metal!
    (LOL. I live 30 minutes west of the glorious California State Capital)

  • basenjibrian

    I get a very strong “Just try and stay out of my way. Just try! I’ll get you, my pretty, and your little dog, too!” from the Wizard of Oz. Not here appearance, but the gesticulating!

  • I believe Chester the Cheetah said it best: “It’s not easy being cheesy.”
    There’s a reason the cheese stands alone.