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I am very impressed with the way the band has matured over the past years. Thereâ€™s a few things littered here and there that could be improved, but overall it does something each Norther album I have listened to is, which I will start off with as my opening point:
Notice how each album they release... is full of great songs, but nothing ultra-mind blowing? That changes here. Certain songs just take melodic metal to the next level. See 'Savior'. If that was a single song on an SP, it would be my only 100% to ever go out.
Why do they excel here? There are no fillers in this album [almost]. Now I know some of you are going to read this review, and yes you will label some songs as fillers. To me though, all the songs on here flow well, and really outline what I call metal. From the start to finish, there is an array of soft, and fast songs. This makes the album feel full. What is worse then listening to an album thatâ€™s the complete same all the way through? Variety is good, and I'll describe that in my next paragraph.
Before I leave this subject, I wanted to take note of how well the instruments sound. They definitely had access to a good producer. The drums (particularly the china cymbal) sound top notch, and the guitar to my ears sound bang on-- though I'm not an elitist guitar player; thus being up to you to decide. The bass is prevalent and warm feeling, which is great for the general atmosphere.
As usual, Petri and the gang start off with a bang. Blistering double bass and in-your-face-assaulting riffs that many new bands only wish they could create. Now, they do follow their own formula as usual, but there is a deviation here that sticks out to me. This is Kristian's clean vocals.
Petriâ€™s voice is quite mature and Kristianâ€™s are quite appropriate for clean vocals. They are used appropriately and do not randomly appear in awkward places. Petri seems to have a deeper growl now thenâ€”for exampleâ€”Mirror of Madness. I think this is just due to constant touring or a shift in his general direction. Do not think that for a second this is easily noticeable thoughâ€¦ he is still making the same vocals. Either way, they fit the album perfectly; I would not ask for any change in it at all.
The location of everything in general is well placed overall, not just the vocals. I found the drums had a fluid feel to it. The transitions between various rhythms flowed so well it felt natural. The only other drummer I have seen do this is Sean Reinert (Cynic/Death/Aghoraâ€¦etc), and to achieve the fluidity here is really hard to do. As a drummer, making the strings attach just perfectly is very hard to achieve.
The solos are great and have great fluidity as well. Obviously there are scales galore, nothing but some nice shredding at the appropriate times with a nice Norther feel. None detract from the song (which is a benefit), but some even add to it in the way thrash solos did. Attending a concert you would get pumped waiting for that blistering solo, and that embodies the feeling we see before us on â€œNâ€.
Highlights on these tracks are tracks 1, 2, 5. Those are my top 3 choices. All the others are great, but I choose those three as my personal favorites. This is Northerâ€™s best album yet, and I expect it to hit #1 in Finland.
Pre-order this. Any Norther fan will not be disappointed. This is the true evolution of a great band. If you dare say something stupid like "They still sound like Bodom", you clearly need to jump off a cliff, they are not in competition anymore: Norther wins everything.
I'm just afraid about their next album, what on earth is going to top this masterpiece...?