Pretend with me, for a second, that there is no god. If there wasn’t a god (or gods, for that matter), what an odd, peaceful existence mankind might have had. Think about the centuries of avoided wars and the countless lives spared. What if there were no bibles, no churches, no Jesus, no Virgin Mary, no resurrection, and no afterlife? What if everybody accepted death as an absolute end and lived every day to the fullest? Damn near every war fought has involved religion or a culture’s lack of understanding for another. So don’t tell me there isn’t a god. He’s real alright. If you wish to fear him and live by his rules is another matter. I, for one, do not. But that’s my decision and I wear my beliefs (or anti-beliefs, depending on how you look at it) proudly on my sleeve. Narnia also wears their beliefs on their sleeves. Though their beliefs are for, rather than against, god. And they fucking own it. And I respect the hell out of them for it. So it is: From Darkness to Light.
Since reuniting with their original singer for 2016’s self-titled release, this five-piece is heaven-bent on doing as they please. Writing the songs they want and singing about their celestial deity as no other metal band dares. And, like Narnia, From Darkness to Light proves they are doing fine without label support.1 But, as I’ve stated before, these Swedes’ lyrics aren’t subtle. So, if you decide to strap on the ole Armor of God and give From Darkness to Light a try, prepare yourself for heavy/power metal churching. Or pretend they’re singing hymns to Satan.
Right away, “A Crack in the Sky” suggests diversity for this new release. Though the cheesy key intro ain’t anything new to the band, the melodic, Evergrey-ish chugs are. Marching along, as organ bursts interrupt the flailing key atmospheres, the song erupts into a big, power metal chorus. All Christian hymns need huge choruses, right? That moment in the song where all the Mr. Beans of the world come together in unison, without the help of a hymnal. But we all know this ain’t exclusive to Narnia. It’s the nature of the genre. And that’s why it works so well for these gents.
As far as big, sing-along choruses go, “You Are the Air That I Breathe,”2 “Has the River Run Dry,”3 and “The War That Tore the Land” take the cake. “You Are the Air I Breathe” is a power metal banger with groove and a techno-y vibe that reminds me of an upbeat Raunchy or A Life Divided piece. And, when the full-band chorus hits, you can only imagine pastor, ushers, and clergy belting it out in unison. Follow-up track, “Has the River Run Dry,” is another groover, but with driving bluesiness. The bass being the pulse and the chorus the adrenaline—shooting the heart rate up higher with each rendition of the latter. “The War That Tore the Land” is opposite in approach but just as effective as the other two. This one is a ballad that is about as close to a Lutheran hymn if I’ve ever heard one. The chorus is rather simple: “Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah, amen.”
But, what stands out, is the progressive nature of From Darkness to Light. The mid-song transition of “MNFST,” the chorus of “I Will Follow,” and the closing duo, “From Darkness to Light (Part 1)” and its counterpart, “Part 2,” all reek of Dream Theater and Spock’s Beard. Though there’s plenty of Iron Maiden-isms on tracks like “MNFST” and “Sail On,” the chorus of “I Will Follow” has that sinister DT vibe from songs like “Fatal Tragedy” and “The Count of Tuscany.” Yet, the two-part closer does it in the most epic way. The two songs combine piano and acoustic guitars, with cheese-stuffed key and massive builds, proving to be a couple of the more intricate pieces the band has ever written. The first piece uses vocals to be the most climactic of the two. Going big, it finally dies off into its instrumental successor. The second parter takes all the tense energy from its older sibling and turns it into a peaceful breeze and settles the crashing waves. It’s a beautiful and emotional way to end the album.
This new era finds the band almost starting from scratch. An album later, From Darkness to Light builds off those initial instincts of Narnia. Though the band pushed the envelope a tad since their self-titled release, From Darkness to Light is like its predecessor. But that’s not a bad thing—as Narnia is a fun, solid album. And so is From Darkness to Light. Narnia ain’t for everyone (musically or lyrically) but their solid mix of heavy, power, and progressive metal is done rather well. I may be my own god, but Narnia‘s is a close second.