Nima : The Norwegian Tomorrow's Outlook is a band/project by songwriter Trond Nicolaisen, bass player Andreas Stenseth and guitarist Øystein Hanssen, founded in 2007. In 2012 the debut '34613' was released. Besides guest instrumentalists, the vocal lead roles were played by Mike Gorham (ex-Heir Apparent) ) and Scott Oliva (a.o. Revenance). Although that album certainly had its moments, it was no more than a decent progressive power metal album. The album failed with me mainly due to its long-winded, and therefore slightly boring character.
Last month the gentlemen came with the successor, 'A Voice Unheard'. I have to say that the album has pleasantly surprised me. In any case, the gentlemen have made huge progress on songwriting level. Especially the excitement, but also the variety that I missed on the debut is much more present here. 'A Voice Unheard' is a concept album about the end of the world. Well, I do not care much about the story, but the gentlemen have definitely succeeded to well interpret the dark feel and atmosphere that one can imagine in such a scenario with their melodic, progressive power metal tunes. The gentlemen regularly come up with strong riffs and catchy melodies and manage to keep you focused in general. During the slower and more progressive pieces do tend to lose the attention, but luckily this is corrected quickly.
The vocals this time are provided by the magnificent Ralf Scheepers (Primal Fear) and “the Norwegian Bruce Dickinson”, Tony Johannessen (Thunderbolt). Well Gorham and Oliva were also great singers, but Scheepers and Johannessen are of a different caliber. The alternation between the high, typical heavy metal voice of Scheepers and the theatrical, somewhat dramatic of Johannessen’s (who indeed comes very close to Bruce Dickinson at times) provide a beautiful musical contrast. And if that is not enough we also get spoken pieces by actors Danny Webb (a.o. Alien 3) and Jamieson Price (also known from the World Of Warcraft games) that give the whole an extra dimension.
As mentioned, 'A Voice Unheard' is a huge step forward for Tomorrow's Outlook and it is clear that a lot of time and effort has been put into the album and everything has been worked out to perfection. The production reminds me a lot of that of Bruce Dickinson's 'The Chemical Wedding', which is not that surprising with Roy Z (a.o. Bruce Dickinson, Halford, Judas Priest) handling the nobs. Anyway, this of course means that the album sounds heavy and contemporary, yet very authentic. In addition to original work, we also get excellent performances of Dickinson's 'Dark Side Of Aquarius' and 'Slave To The Evil Force' by Russian legend Aria. Especially the first one fits remarkably well with their own material. All in all is 'A Voice Unheard' and strong album that will not disappoint the fans of progressive, modern power metal. However, I must say that due to its complex character, the record does not impress immediately and requires several listens in order to reveal itself. But is certainly worth that time and effort.