Nubian Rose

Label: Funkylord Dynasty/Connecting Music
Three similar bands: Heart/Citizen Charlie/Sahara Hotnights
Rating: HHHHHHH (5/7)
Reviewer: Caj Källmalm
01. Ever See Your Face
02. Mountain
03. Living For Tomorrow
04. How Am I
05. Get Ready
06. Your Love
07. Once Bitten
08. Reckless
09. Close My Eyes Forever
10. Sisters

Sofia Lilja (Vocals)
Christer Åkerlund (Guitar)
Thomas Lindgren (Guitar)
Henrik Uhrbom (Bass)
David Algesten (Drums)
Fredrik Åkerlund (Keyboard)


Mats Levén (V on 9)


Released 26/10-2012
Reviewed 29/12-2012


Nubia is an Egyptian province and hence a Nubian Rose should be a rose from that region, which is something this Swedish band claims to be. Their debut album is called mountain, which is quite rare in Egypt but much more common in Sweden, and this mountain they refer to is a sort of punky AOR kind of melodic heavy metal with female vocals, which might sound complicated but it's not that strange after all. Think bands with female fronted vocals in heavy metal or AOR and you should be able to relate quite well to this, but there are a few things that makes this band different is partly the fact that they don't just have one Åkerlund but two Åkerlunds in the band, Mainly, though, this band is fronted by an exceptional vocalist and one - at least compared to most crow-looking female vocalists within the hard rock - quite good looking one too (which probably is why they've placed her on the cover).

This album was released in Sweden a long time ago but it was just recently the album became available in stores all over the world. however, this hasn't stopped Nubian Rose from getting a lot of attention all over the world long before this international release was even due. Since no one bothered to supply me with a copy of the album when it was released in Sweden, I write this review in connection to the international release and I for one don't find it difficult to understand why this album has become so popular around the hard rock community. Much is due to the already mentioned female vocalist Sofia Lilja, which is someone that has been seen a lot in Swedish national television programs such as The Voice and Swedish Idol where she's been coaching contestants to improve their vocal performance and I guess she's doing her voice practicing and voice improvement exercises in superabundance because she really hits the notes nice and clean in almost every place. And having a strong, påowerful, clean and trained voice like the one by Lilja could be the difference between something good and mediocre many times. I almost shiver everytime I her Liljans voice in songs like the opening Ever See Your Face or the title track and particularly in Your Love, which also happens to be the best song on the album. But they are not exceptional by any means because all songs have great vocals and even though Lilja mostly sings in higher regions it's still clean and well articulated, which is quite rare in hard rock where most vocalists go by feeling or charisma rather than pure quality.

However, behind Lilja we also find five gentlemen with a respective instrument - two guitarists, one keyboardist, one bass player and a drummer. Overall they make very good music too, absolutely in class with their (by me already) commended vocalist, but there are a few tracks where I just wonder what it is they've tried to do. Take Once Bitten as an example, which is a song that feels extremely unfitting on the album with the rest of the songs as it's more of an Aerosmith bluesy kind of rock than that punk-rock sound they have on most tracks. And I also wonder what they're doing when they let the keyboardist make some of the songs sound more like classic Van Halen than what they're normally doing. Now I'm not saying they couldn't do this, as the album is pretty well assorted when it comes to how it sound, but there are a few of these things where I just feel they've gone one step too far from the sound they have. Mostly, though, I feel it's a great beat and nice straight to the point rock music without being afraid of mixing in elements from near and far. They also try a cover on the album and in that cover they lend a hoarse voice to make the male part in the Lita Ford/Ozzy classic Close My Eyes. Not the best song on the album, but they still manage to make it sound like their own song despite having Mats Levén in the band. And I only feel it's somewhat a pity that the vocalists steals the show from an otherwise brilliant instrumental performance because neither of the vocalists really shine here.

Every time I play this album I feel my foot stomping in tempo with the beat but so far I haven't tried to sing along even once. That could be interpreted in one of these two ways: either that the music really is more cathcy, addictive or even better than the vocals or - or(!) - that the vocals are too good to be destroyed by my crow-like pitch of voice (kraaa-kraaa is how I sound mostly).

Something in the album information caught my eye as I reviewed this album and it was a quote that was included from Sweden Rock Magazine that said this was "More radio friendly and commercial viable then bands like Journey or Dio" which is a quite stupid thing to say. I'm not saying they're wrong, but not being a hard rocker I don't think many will say Dio is a particularly commersial or radio friendly artist. And if you're a hard rocker you might as well think bands like Endstille or Terra tenebrosa are "radio friendly" which just is complete bull-shit unless you're insane - just like the quote in particular. However, Journey are very radio friendly and commercial and to be compared with them are of course a big honour that this band to some extent also deserves but not on all songs here or in excessive amounts. There's plenty of hit-potential on 'Mountain' and I'm sure Nubian Rose will become even bigger as long as they keep doing this kind of music because the whole album is full of quality in everything from instruments and vocals to sound quality and how the songs are created.

I don't think they'll blow anything from the surface of the earth with this album but they definitely can blow things away with this one and if you don't want to check the entire album out, then take the time and play Ever See Your Face, Living For Tomorrow and Your Love.



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