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New power metal project NorthTale have just released their debut album, Welcome To Paradise. This is kind of a big deal.
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An explosive mix of metal music talents from different sides of the world, NorthTale’s lineup heralds the collaboration current and former members of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Udo Dirkschneider, Yngwie Malmsteen, and Twilight Force. With an energetic and addictive debut such as Welcome To Paradise, NorthTale are set to become one of the most exhilarating additions to the exciting power metal landscape.
“It is very new,” says guitarist and founder Bill Hudson, “we started a year ago perhaps, its brand new and I’m very excited about it’s the first time in my career that I’ve been able to release something that is my own, that I’m not playing covers of. And I think I have the right guys in this lineup. Right time, right place kind of thing, we’re all really excited about it.”
Hudson is a familiar guitarist to audiences all over the world, from a number of places including his exquisite performances with the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, and rocking global stages with Udo Dirkschneider. On what he has been able to do with NorthTale that he hasn’t been able to do before, Hudson says, “It’s a whole different monster, a lot of what is going on with Northtale right now makes me feel like I’m seventeen, you know, because it’s the first time that I’m making decisions, the first time things are happening my way rather than having to adhere to someone else’s way of working. Most importantly, it’s my music. I’ve spent the past seven years touring the world with some of the biggest metal bands but after a while its starts to feel like I’m not the guy the audience wants to see, you know what I mean? A lot of people know my name … but nobody knows what I sound like. Now, Welcome To Paradise is exactly what I sound like.”
That ‘sound’ is undoubtedly infused with Hudson’s renowned lively and technically impressive guitar work. On whether Welcome To Paradise has been an opportunity to showcase his spectacular chops, Hudson is admirably humble. “The technical aspect of it…its not really intended to be that way. It’s just me playing what I hear in my head. Now, as far as the riffs go and the guitar parts go, that’s not solos, then as usual I just want to play around the vocals, not on top of it.”
I’ve spent the past seven years touring the world with some of the biggest metal bands but after a while its starts to feel like I’m not the guy the audience wants to see, you know what I mean? A lot of people know my name … but nobody knows what I sound like. Now, Welcome To Paradise is exactly what I sound like.
There are some tracks on Welcome To Paradise, such as the stormy heartfelt number Way Of The Light, that stand out vocally as a bit deeper, or darker even. Why the change of mood in an otherwise quite uplifting album? As Hudson says, there has been a lot of emotion poured into it. “I did not write that song at all,” he says. “I played the guitar solo, that’s about it. That’s through and through a Christian Eriksson [vocalist] song, and I always say that that is the song that best represents him, the lyrics are way to personal to even attempt to talk about it, but it’s a great song for sure, the first demo was pretty good, then when Jimmy [Pitts, keyboardist] did the piano thing, he took it to a whole different level.”
Naturally, the question then lingers … which song best represents him? “Follow Me, track number three,’ Hudson says, “Either Follow Me or Shape Your Reality, but I’d say more Follow Me. I wrote that song about ten years ago, but at the same time it was redone by the band. At the same time as I wrote it ten years ago, the rest of the band had input on it. It wasn’t the case with most of the songs, but on this one there’s a Jimmy part, a Patrick [Johansson, drummer] part, the orchestration at the beginning, that’s Michael [Planefeldt] our bass player, he does all the orchestration on the album, and you know, then Jimmy wrote the part in the middle and the melody was something I had.
“That’s also why it’s one of my favourite tracks, because the I feel that the lyrics that Christian wrote, about uniting for a common goal, there’s a really good phrase in the chorus that I try to keep to myself when I start acting like an asshole to my bandmates which is like ‘why don’t we set aside our egos’, or something. Those lyrics talk about uniting for a common goal, which is exactly what we did, that was the last song we finished for the album. To me, that’s the one that best represents what I wanted to achieve with the band and with the record.”
Hudson’s contribution can certainly be heard, especially in the form of mindblowing solos dancing throughout Welcome To Paradise, such as the fret gymnastics displayed on Shape Your Reality. “Yeah,” he laughs, “Shape Your Reality’s solo particularly has a little section that I recorded, and I guess I didn’t think at the time that I might have to play this live, like, one day, and I literally spent like three entire days with a metronome, practicing. It’s only three bars, but it was something much greater than my ability to play at the time I recorded it. Now I can do it, hopefully [laughs].
And we shall soon see, for NorthTale have plans to take to road, and as Hudson informs us, this chapter is only just opening. “We are doing our first show at Sabaton Open Air, and then we head to Japan for Evoken Metal Fest. It really is the beginning of the band for us.”