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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"