Narnia – Ghost Town Review

Everyone’s favorite Christian band is back (that isn’t Stryper or Theocracy). No new gimmicks, no new twists—just the same sermons explaining why all you sin-sucking sons of bitches are going to Hell. On the surface, Ghost Town is nothing you haven’t already heard from Narnia. But that’s fine because their mix of neoclassical power metal is quite soothing—even if being told to seek our Lord and Savior makes my ears smoke. But I would be lying if I said I didn’t return to their 2016 self-titled release occasionally. These Swedish worshippers deliver impressive guitar work combining Iron Maiden elements with Malmsteen noodling. Thankfully, not a ton of wanking because the song is the focus here, and the chorus is the highlight. And their use of keys, occasional church choirs, and epic builds will surely haunt your house with the Holy Ghost. But Narnia always lingers in “this is fine” territories. Will Ghost Town continue that trend, or has Narnia found the next ladder rung?

Opener, “Rebel,” is a stereotypical Narnia track. It begins with a big, power-metal intro that gives way to some tasty riffage. The neoclassical solo work on the back half is impressive if predictable. And, of course, the chorus is a hooking beauty that never gets boring—no matter how many times it repeats. But, like all Narnia releases, there are moments of diversity throughout. “Thief” uses low verses to counter the swooning chorus, “Hold On” explores Dream Evil territories, and the vocals in the back-to-back “Alive” and “Modern Day Pharisees” add a punching emphasis to the guitars. There’s no question of Christian Rivel-Liljegren’s talent at the mic, and he continues to deliver on this new album.

As far as the songwriting goes, there are various riffs to explore. A couple of the best tracks are the back-to-back “Hold On” and “Glory Daze.” The first is a big, bluesy rocker that treads the line between banging your head and tapping your foot. And whenever I hear it, I almost give in to the lyrics and “Hold on/Hold onto the cross.” “Glory Daze” takes its predecessor’s formula and kicks it up a notch, delivering cruising riffs that support the chorus nicely. I’d be all over this track if it wasn’t for that cringey key solo on the backend. But where the keys really lend a hand on Ghost Town is on the addictive title track. The keys do a fantastic job of supporting the guitars as this kickin’ piece transitions into a chorus ala Kamelot.

Unfortunately, the album contains a few tracks meant to break up the pace but, instead, ruin it. “Thief” is hammocking between the solid “Rebel” and fun “Hold On,” single-handedly killing the moment in the first few minutes of the album. Its alternating low to passionate vocals result in one of the songs I skip over. Another is the sappy “Descension.” It’s much like the slower-to-mid-pace character of Dream Theater—vocals and all. Unfortunately, it goes nowhere and does little to contribute to the album. Lastly, “Modern Day Pharisees” starts strong but doesn’t last. Once the piano kicks in toward the end, everything they created that led to this moment collapses.

After a few listens, Ghost Town continues where 2019’s From Darkness to Light left off. Compared to Narnia, Ghost Town packs in the same amount of fun-loving power metal but with ten extra minutes. Narnia had the right balance of heavy and melodic in a sleek thirty-eight-minute package. But the band appears to embrace the “more the merrier” philosophy. I’m not going to bash on length1 but when there aren’t a lot of surprises around the corner, it’s difficult to stay focused. That said, Ghost Town is no dud. There’s plenty here to enjoy—even if you have to jump around.

Rating: 2.5/5.0
DR: 5 | Format Reviewed: 270 kb/s mp3
Label: Self-Release
Websites: | |
Releases Worldwide: March 17th, 2023

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  1. I’m huge.
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