Norther - N

Romping through a range of styles from Swedish-flavoured Death Metal to Symphonic Black Metal and Prog-Music elements, Finland’s Norther have finally produced an album that sees them outgrowing the Children of Bodom comparisons tagged to them ever since their debut album “Dreams of Endless War” came out in 2002. Far from indulging in high speed technical outbursts like their countrymen, Norther display throughout these 12 songs an exemplary dynamism to blend smooth time-changes, splendorous guitar harmonies, catchy-power riffs, soaring keyboard melodies and some truly memorable choruses. An eclecticism rarely seen on most of Children of Bodom’s releases, which tend to be a bit one-dimensional with its Neo-Classical inspired interplay between guitars and keyboards.
Well, pinning the simply titled “N” down to one definable category is no easy task, ‘cause while “My Antichrist” and “Frozen Angel” see the quintet cycling fluidly between blistering Death-Thrash riffs and melodically seductive refrains enriched by vocalizations gliding from the raspy voice Petri Lindroos to the clean singing of Kristian Ranta, there’s also space for gentler, more relaxed pieces like “Savior”, “Always & Never” and “If You Go”, with the band incorporating new textures and moods into their sound. “Savior” (???) for example, with its mid-tempo rhythm carries out a piano line somehow reminiscent of Amorphis chiming with truly invigorating and harmonized guitars. The Amorphis influence really shines forth on piano-driven “If You Go”, which has a ballad touch to it with guitarist Kristian Ranta singing in a style close to the smooth side of Tomi Joutsen. As for “Always & Never”, it’s perhaps the most eclectic song Norther ever written, with a folky violin sound and progressive bass lines adding an interesting contrast to a melodic Death Metal structure.
“N” is a gigantic album that has that extra flair that was missing on previous works, which prevented them from ascending into the forefront of Metal scene. North is the way! (8/10)

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