Henk : With '9', Noturnall releases their third album and, according the band, the album is more accessible than the predecessors. Since I do not know these albums, I cannot say if that is the case. What I do know is that this album is full of complex songs that you really need to pay attention to on what's going on musically speaking.
Where opener 'Hey!' is still quite straightforward heavy metal, next song 'Change' showcases already a lot of fusion influences. This however is a song with a great chorus that sticks in your head and it will not leave you anymore. 'Wake Up' could have been on an Adrenaline Mob record. Not that strange if one knows that Mike Orlando, indeed from Adrenaline Mob, plays on this song. Also in this song a very accessible chorus and a magnificent guitar solo. 'Moving On' starts as a ballad but develops into a very strong heavy metal track with fantastic keyboard and drum work.
The best song of the album is the Helloween-like 'Mysterious'. It is the younger brother, so to say, of Helloween's 'Eagle Fly Free'. High speed, double bass drums and a beautiful melody line are the ingredients of this masterpiece. It is a fantastic track followed by 'Hearts As One' which is a beautiful semi acoustic ballad. They probably did not do it on purpose, but the song starts with a riff that comes from Maiden's 'Rime Of The Ancient Mariner'. The song has no resemblance what so ever to this Maiden song, but just listen to that opening riff.
With 'What You Waiting For' and 'Shadows', there are two less-than-imaginative songs. This in comparison to all the beauty that has passed in the first six. These are still very virtuoso pieces, but less accessible than the rest. The closing 'Pain' is again a semi acoustic power ballad where even some Brazilian rhythms and a beautiful orchestra part have been incorporated. Good song but personally I would rather have had an aggressive closing of the album.
Conlusion, based on the first six tracks, one can say that '9' is a very good album. Unfortunately, the last three tracks are just a bit weaker but with another band these would have been most likely the best songs they would ever have written. This to indicate the high level on this album. Absolutely recommended!