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There's something in me that'll still give this album the time of day. It captivated me when I first got into metal, particularly this power / speed metal brand of Finnish melodic death. The overuse of keys, the polished intensity, the flare, the easy-on-the-ears, harsh dryness of the screams, and the overall tameness certainly holds the listener's hand throughout the whole listening experience. Yet Mirror Of Madness does this with its dignity higher than before, and with compositions to back it up.
To get it out of the way, these lyrics suck ass. Just corny, poorly written, emotionless lyrics that were written off the pages of a thesaurus or with a few clicks on any thesaurus website. Thankfully, vocalist Petri Lindroos is a non-dynamic screamer, and for the most part these angst lyrics aren't going to be heard that clearly. All the curse words like "fuck" are more decipherable than the rest, though, and it doesn't seem like a coincidence, either. Moments like those give me the douche-chills, like "Betrayed"'s "I'm out of my... mother fucking mind!" Ugh, just awful, and shows how concerned the band was if that was written for everyone to see and no one called that type of shit out.
Lyrics aside, the vocals do what they can to match the breakneck riffs and their precise distortion. The two starters, "Blackhearted" and "Betrayed" are twins in terms of structure and vibe. It's almost like hearing the exact same song twice. The intensity of both puts this album on high at the beginning, and "Of Darkness And Light" is the mid-paced, atmospheric-slanted, harmonic that spice that follows. It's definitely the type of song with a heavily inspired Somewhere In Time-esque bridge / solo section. Once more, moments like these work and glue this album together to be more coherent than any other Norther album.
"Of Darkness And Light" has a partner, "Cry", which, despite the juvenile title and lyrics, is probably Norther's defining moment for me. The attempt at a mid-paced, consistent, thrashing riff and heavier attitude is a couple aspects that make this song solid, but the solo sections are what make this song the shit. Very well-written, pompous, elated, and catchy. It's the same catchiness that made Iron Maiden's leads and solos as majestic and cunning as they came. Planman's keyboard solos are typically goofy and tacky, but this one on "Cry" is elastic. Lindroos and Ranta on the twin leads later in the song, as simple of a task it is to accomplish, is the moment of icy bliss that, to me, is the peak of Norther's coolness.
The tracks that sort of fold together in terms of patchy filler are "Midnight Walker," "Unleash Hell", and "Everything Is An End". They're unimpressive despite the joyous keys, tarnished drum aggression, and inspiring, wintery tone. Even "Everything Is An End", while having a very unorthodox (for Norther standards) bass-prominent section with a cool build-up alongside the guitars, has no more zeal to it than cold weather. To counter these tracks are the final two (or three if the idyllic "Frozen Sky" is involved) songs "Dead" (reminding me of the game Killer Instinct and In Flames' "Bullet Ride") and the title track. Nothing out of the ordinary when it comes to these two, but certainly not on the level of unevenness as the filler songs.
The flow from start to finish is a class better than any other Norther album. It's the exact same formula Norther tried with the debut, Dreams Of Endless War, yet almost each song's strength ("Unleash Hell" is pretty stupid) on its own holds this album together. Mirror Of Madness is a rehashed anomaly that epitomizes all the good things about Norther while still retaining (but downplaying) all the negatives, as well.
Constantly berated as a rip-off of Bodom's trademark style, Norther remains severely underrated, even to this day. Mirror of Madness is clearly their best work, and proves that they possess a sound unique to themselves, too.
After their impressive debut "Dreams of Endless War", the band had a hell of a task of replicating the quality and emotion that went into the aforementioned album. They pulled it off flawlessly. The atmosphere encircling this album's sound is incredible, and is easily the biggest highlight. Keyboardist Tuomas Planman is largely to thank, choosing to take a step back from the forefront of the sound, lending instead to the epic, cold atmosphere the band conveys on this release.
The guitar work still has a slightly thrashy edge to it, akin to "Dreams of Endless War". The production is superb, recorded by the legendary Anssi Kippo of COB fame. Toni Hallio's drumming is simple, yet adequate, lending aggression where it is needed throughout the release. Petri Lindroos' harsh vocals have a very rough, youthful edge to them, and sound better than ever.
The band shines the most on tracks such as "Blackhearted", with sombre piano pieces mixing with the harshness of the band's sound. "Betrayed" and "Midnight Walker" show a slightly more brutal, guitar-driven side to the band. No matter what, it always comes back to the atmosphere, the true driving force behind this album. Outro track "Frozen Sky" only drives that point further home, showcasing Planman's outstanding abilities.
High-flying solos, epic songwriting, unbridled aggression, its all here. Fans of Norther, or melodic metal of this variety, can't afford to miss Mirror or Madness!
Check out: "Blackhearted", "Of Darkness And Light","Everything Is And End" , and "Frozen Sky"
This album has made me love this band, ever since first seeing the Mirror of Madness video on youtube.com. Every song captures the emotions of the players, in their solo's especially, as this is a band who really understands the term "Melody." This is hard to find in a lot of newer bands. From the second "Blackhearted" starts, till the second "Frozen Sky" ends, there isnt a single flaw. This band knows how to use it's tools to it's advantages. Solos are not blairing fast guitar runs, though short spurts are incorperated, the Gain is on 11, but all together they have a solid sound, and one can tell the difference between instruments, and see how each song is it's own entity.
A lot of people refer to these guys as Bodom wantabees, but this just isn't true. They are very different, and really, besides instrumentation, the only similarity is Lindroos and Laiho's voices, though Petri's is different enough to be called his own. The keyboards are compleatly different, as Planman's keyboard style seems more leant towards classical music, while Warman is more improve - jazz to begin with, and the Metal coming naturally. Both guitarists, Ranta and Lindroos, takes solos in most songs, while there are exceptions, maybe not on Mirror of Madness, but in general, while Alexi, along with writing almost every peice of music, also does all of the solos.
So now maybe you can see how unique this band is, and how amazing this album is, so go ahead, buy it, and listen to it over and over again.
This and "Death Unlimited" are Norther's best albums so far, and they will probably hold that position as I doubt Norther will again put out anything this good even though their recent album wasn't too bad. This is another very good album that I think surpasses what Children of Bodom has ever done. And another album that I don't think is a Bodom ripoff. While Petri and Alexi are close friends, and while Norther and Children of Bodom play the same genre of music, they still sound plenty different, and if you don't think so, thats most likely because you didn't listen to the music enough to really absorb it and let it grow on you.
The songs on this album are filled with catchy riffs, fast as hell and melodic solos, great vocals, excellently blended keyboards, and it even has an instrumental towards the end called "Frozen Sky", which is great and definitely reinforces the sad mood that you are supposed to be in while listening to the album.
The best songs on the album have got to be "Betrayed" and "Unleash Hell". Both of those songs are awesome mainly because they are fast and basically straight to the point. "Betrayed" has very catchy riffs, strong but not over the top vocals, and several very nice solos, which generally start off slow and low pitched, but still melodic, and then move their way up in both speed and tone. The screams are another great quality of the song, and many songs on this album. They are long, harsh, and basically give you an idea of pain and anger. "Unleash Hell" starts off with catchy riffs and a scream that lasts a whole 6 seconds. Doesn't get much better than that. The vocals here, when they do kick in, blend in with the riffs very well, they sound very angry, and they are strong here as well. The synths on this song also work very well. They kick in every now and then and usually have a high pitched beat, which gives the song variety. The chorus is a bit slower than the verses and it almost is like a chance to take a breath for the listener. The solo starting at 2:29, follows the structure I described above. Then we have even more soloing towards 3:40.
The album also contains several slower paced songs. While they aren't as catchy because of their speed, they are still very good songs, contain addictive riffs, good vocals, and the best and longest solos tend to be on these slower songs. While fast as hell solos are catchy and impressive, the slower solos allow you to hear more of the melody better, which is also pretty good.
Overall, this is a great album, with excellent musicianship, and I once again find myself having to congratulate Petri on his awesome vocals. His vocals are definitely growing on me, and he is becoming one of my favorite vocalists in the metal world. These guys definitely have much more talent to offer than Children of Bodom. While Children of Bodom were good back in the day, these guys still continue to be good, so hopefully in the future, Norther won't make me regret these comments. Great work and keep it up!
While Norther has their ups and downs, they definately cannot be called blatantly worthless, which many accuse them of being due to their very close musical proximity to Children of Bodom. Yes, the genres are exactly the same as well as all instruments and musicians are identical in either bands. However, I have no problem enjoying and appreciating their [Norther] work, especially when I consider the differences between them, which includes; song structures, chords (and scales), and lyrical themes. Yet before we indulge into the topic, of the close affiliation with Children of Bodam Norther has, even further - the description and analysis of "Mirror of Madness" must first be made.
This particular selection of Metal has been recieving seriously misguiding reviews on this site. While some are saying that Norther are talentless Bodom ripoffs (which is not true), others are proclaiming that they are a fine Metal act that deserves all the credit it can recieve (which also is not true). Norther, and Mirror of Madness in and of itself, are niether of these exaggerated titles. Because of this, Norther would most obviously be placed in the exact centre. I find that these musicians have quite a lot to answer for if I were to, in fact, directly compare them that of Children of Bodom. With the genre that Norther follows, they have so many directions in which to take their accumulated sound, which is why "Mirror of Madness" does not deserve the stellar feedback they have been getting from pretty much everybody. They haven't done too much with the genre, they do not seem to expand on it - which leaves many segments of Mirror of Madness Monotonous, and void of affect! Of course, this should not necessarily suggest that the entire album in question has no worth, or anything to give you. It just seems to blend together in a fashion that many of the songs are similar, with no means of differentiating themselves from eachother. And all of these elements that I have discussed are only foucussed on sond writing talent - which they lack (in comparison to Children of Bodom). But none of these have anything to do with musicianship, raw musical talent, or production. Which will be mentioned now...
Norther has astounding musicianship, they are all accomplished players who are excellent at what they do. Kristian Ranta and Petri Lindroos (Guitars), are amoung the best Guitarists one can hope to find and both can easily hold they're own against 'Wildchild' any day. And because of these two brilliant Guitarists, who both share a friendly competition with eachother, we are blessed to hear these two trading off solos - the element that is gleefully welcomed into the Metal world is doubled with these guys going head to head!
The Percussionist of Norther possesses and very accurate ear, his fills and patterns never fumble, and he never loses track of were he is. This, however, is majorily caused by the monotony that Norther's song writing brings. The tempo and time signatures don't seem to change that often in one particular song (especially Mirror of Madness, Betrayed, and Of Darkness and Light). Inversely, when they do decide to change or slightly alter the time signatures, the song in which this occurs is far more enjoyable and far more exciting (this includes the rest of the songs on the album that were not classified as 'monotonus').
The Bassist, who is actually given a glimmer of spotlight (as apposed to most Metal bands who just prefer to keep them silent) has, from what is heard, a great deal of talent. Unfortunately there is not enough of him to give an honest citicism of, so all that can really be said is that he is not terrible!
Their Keyboardist is basically the exact expectation of any Keyboardist in any Power Metal band. If one is familiar with the Keyboarding done for Stratovarius, Kotipelto, Simphony X, Magic Kingdom, or even Tad Morose (and Children of Bodom) chances are Norther's Keyboardist wll not surprise, or dissappoint you.
The production that was done for Mirror of Madness was excellently maintained and professional (I thought I'd just throw that last one in there because of the well done, yet primative production of their previous album "Dreams of Endless War"). Therefore, I must repeat that Norther is niether amazing or junk. They have massive potential, but they don't seem to develope what they play or write. In fact, the only real improvment they have made from their last album was the production, so they do need to work on differentiating their songs a lot more! And for the record, their latest release "Death Unlimited" has been taken into consideration and the same criticism can still be made.
Also, one more point. Do not lump them in as Children of Bodom ripoffs. Because Norther's genre is relatively new (and because of this, little has been done with it) there isn't too much that can happen until more bands begin to indulge themselves in "Power/Speed Metal with Harsh Vocals" or "Melodic Death" or whatever the hell you call it. The only bands out there besides Norther and COB are Skyfire (and I'd give you more examples but I honestly don't know any, so you are well aware of the limited amount of bands in this genre)!
To summarize, Norther has beautiful potential, which they do use occasionally (mainly with "Everything is an End", "Cry" and "Dead"). Their Guitarists are solo-shredding experts. They have a decent but monochromatic Drummer, and all around they are a good band that could have been orgasmic but lack seriously in the song writing department. I apologize for being repetitive! Listen to them and make your own conclusion - it's not like downloading is difficult.
Wow. This CD blew me away after listening to it. It’s fast, melodic, and catchy...but, are they a rip off of Children of Bodom? A lot of people say yes, but the fact is, there are few bands that play this same style, and every band after CoB will be compared to them. Every band in the same genre will sound a like, or atleast slightly similar. Now to the actual music...
Norther is a combination of power and melodic atmospheric “black” metal, so to speak. Almost everything about this album is absolutely perfect. The production is awesome, everything can be heard, and the guitars have a sweet yet aggressive tone to them. There are also incredible guitar solos in virtually every song :D. They use a lot of keyboards, which keep the atmosphere. They overlap guitars, and use a lot of background choirs which sound awesome. The drumming is done really well. Though nothing in particular in them grabs your attention, they keep a steady fast beat that moves the songs along. The vocals are very similar to Alexi of CoB, which isn’t a bad thing. Except you can distinguish them because Norther’s are high but stronger yet sound a little muffled. They fit beautifully with the music. Might I add, the lyrics are really awesome, and seem like they had a little more thought put into them than those of CoB. In the booklet, some of the songs are actually printed in a way where you have to look in a mirror to truly read them, neat idea.
The album starts off with “Blackhearted”, which is a nicely done song that’s fast paced, and has a fucking awesome keyboard solo towards the end.
“Betrayed” is after that, with a similar beginning. This song gets a lot darker with a much more evil tune and angrier lyrics. “Of Darkness and Light” is after that, and starts out with dualing keyboards and guitars, and awesome intro. The song has some beautiful piano in the chorus, and the intro is played somewhere in the middle, except with a really catchy beat. “Midnight Walker” is probably one of my favorites. It is a nice fast song with fucking awesome melodic riffs, and a sweet keyboard solo. After that, “Cry” starts off with an angry intro which I love, where Petri Lindroos lets out a really low-pitched growl, and I’m pretty sure it’s the only time he does anything like that. The chorus is pretty slow, but the song speeds up in the middle with sweet solos, and a fucking insane keyboard solo yet again. “Everything is an End” is a good fast track with awesome atmospheric keyboards, and I think they actually used a shout choir on this and some of the other songs. This song is pretty good, nothing out of the ordinary though. “Unleash Hell” sounds like the name. From start to finish, this song is one fucking pissed bitch, in a good way. It’s fast, and has insane solos. This might be another one of my favorites. “Dead” is definitely my favorite. Not only does it have the outstanding qualities of a regular Norther song, but in the middle, they have both guitars and the keyboards all playing with each other, and it is just fucking amazing. The last is the title track, “Mirror of Madness”. This song is decent, but I think Norther were trying to be a little more aggressive than they should be. There are some good tunes, but some parts are just like god dammit, this riff blows, or something.
Overall, Norther are a really fucking talented band, and if you’re a fan of Children of Bodom, you should definitely check this band out. They’re from Finland and they are ready to kick ass.
I recently got Norther’s sophomore effort, Mirror of Madness and I must say I am very impressed with this band. Being a huge melodic death metal fan, this album delivers the goods which people like me so desperately crave. It’s got high octane riffing but the real magic lies in the melodies which provide great hooks for the songs.
The first track, “Blackhearted,” has an opening riff that is very attention grabbing. The use of a pinch harmonic is very effective here. The next song, however, is one that’s really great. The title is “Betrayed” and from start to finish this song is one of the best tracks on the album. The chorus is especially good on this song and I often find myself head banging slightly harder to that part. The solo on this number, as well as every other song is superb.
My favorite song, however, is the track entitled “Midnight Walker.” The lyrics are great and so is the rhythm work, but like all great melodic death songs the hook is what’s important. This song actually has two great hooks in both the pre-chorus and chorus. “Unleash Hell” is also another excellent song. The lyrics are what set that song apart and are probably some of the best on the album.
This album also has a cover song. What band did Norther choose to cover? Well it’s not exactly a band you’d expect. They covered Smash by The Offspring, and as odd as this may seem it’s actually a very good cover. I would have liked it if they had added a solo to it but oh well, it still sounds really good.
With Norther, especially their first two albums, there is obviously going to be Children of Bodom comparisons. However, for me there is just something about this band that sets them apart from CoB, but if you are a fan of Alexi and the rest of Bodom you’ll probably love Norther as well. One recognizable difference, for me at least, between Norther and CoB is the fact that Norther’s lyric’s tend not to be quite as cheesy which I thoroughly enjoy. In summary, Norther is one of those bands that when they are good they are good but they are great they’re unbelievable.