Amen

Nubian Rose

A band that defines itself on a foundation of strong melodies, great hooks, big guitars, and a powerful female vocalist will definitely grab my attention from the start, so I’ll venture into this review with high expectations and, unlike my high school years, I’ll actually pay attention.
February 5, 2024

The Swedish Melodic Rock sensation of the early 10’s, NUBIAN ROSE is back after a long hiatus. Their new album, “Amen” was released on January 26, 2024 on Pride and Joy Music and on Livewire/Cargo Records in Germany. The story of NUBIAN ROSE starts in 2012, with their self-financed, low-key release of their debut album “Mountain”. With practically no publicity, the album spread like wildfire in the world of Melodic Rock and soon they were featured in some of the greatest rock publications in the world, like Classic Rock Magazine and Burrn with outstanding reviews. With the latest album they showcase a more progressive side of the band, but with their trademark foundation of strong melodies, great hooks, big guitars, and the powerful voice of Sofia Lilja (vocal coach on the Swedish TV series “Idol”) whilst challenging themselves to take NUBIAN ROSE to new frontiers and cut all “obligations” that creators very often feel because of outside expectations and packed with analogue, vintage synthesizers and turning down the gain level on the guitars. The list of inspiration for “Amen” is long and diverse, with everything from JUDAS PRIEST, RAINBOW, CHEAP TRICK to David Bowie, John Carpenter, Dalbello, Stevie Nicks and Donna Summer, and that my beloved reader, is an intriguing array of artists, so let’s see how they piece this puzzle all together.

The album opens with “Memorial” and delivers as promised with a short piano-based intro that reminds me of something you would hear in the opening credits of a James Bond movie, but is actually a short, emotional piece, where Sofia is experiencing her own death and funeral in the lyrics and she definitely radiates a transcendental and impassioned tone. “Dramatic Day” comes out hard with a thundering drum beat that dominates giving a very temperamental, almost hypnotic sound that flirts with symphonic elements throughout without a true chorus, which I believe is by design, but overall felt like I was running in place and never got to the finish line. I knew this would be an interesting listen based on the bands musical inspirations (see above) but so far they haven’t picked a lane and if that’s the road we’re headed down I guess I need to be patient and listen on. “Break Down the Walls” and “Running” continue on with the diverse and euphoric melodic euro hard rock melodies and like a Swiss army knife, offer many options including disco, pop, electronic and new age all packaged together like presents under the Christmas tree.

“Lost in the Mist” sleep walks through the first five minutes of this ten minute song with a mundane tempo that almost had me nodding off but somehow managed to pull a “Hail Mary” (that’s my Super Bowl reference) with a nice rocking, industrial riff and finishing off with heavy and rocking guitar chops to end strong. Three of the next four tracks “Red Sky”, Desert Night” and Bright Lights” offer a mixed bags of tricks with a rambunctious delivery of playful and twisting melodies and you better play close attention as they’ll have your head spinning. “Holy Roar” is my favorite track as it pulsates an innovative, boisterous and hardened tempo with bursts of ruthless, strong guitar work, and they should have ended the album on that high note because the only thing I can say about “Gonna Get Close to You”,  the QUEENSRŸCHE version of a DALBELLO song, is simply this, it’s super tough to duplicate such a great and definitive song by one of the absolute best bands ever, and you can NEVER do it better, so just don’t do it.

There were many contrasting musical avenues that NUBIAN ROSE took us down on “Amen” and in conclusion offers enough swagger that will keep your interest peaked, and like an onion has many layers that will keep you peeling away with the variety of genres they offer up and I sense this album will get better with every listen.

7 / 10

Good

Songwritting

7

Musicianship

8

Memorability

8

Production

7
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"Amen" Track-listing:

 

1. Memorial

2. Dramatic Day

3. Break Down the Walls

4. Running

5. Lost in the Mist

6. Red Sky

7. Desert Night

8. Holy Roar

9. Bright Lights

10. Gonna Get Close to You

 

Nubian Rose Lineup:

 

Sofia Lilja – vocals, piano

Christer Akerlund  - guitar, synths, bass, vocals

Thomas Weinesjo – drums

Michael Karlsson – drums on Dramatic Day, Running, Red Sky

 

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