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F - 8%

OzzyApu, February 28th, 2012

There is no point to this album. It has no reason to exist. Any sense of purpose was balled up and used for "Omen" on the last album, Till Death Unites Us. At this point, Norther have long overstayed their welcome, and they have no ideas to keep them grounded in the world of active bands. Each member here is dried up to the point where all they can contribute are their playing skills. There is no creativity with the members of Norther, nor under the band name Norther. Look no further than the cover art for lack of inspiration - the fucking album is titled N! That's just picking a letter out of the English alphabet!

Studio Fredman isn't a bad place to record an album. It's well-known in metal for being the recording hotspot for melodic death metal bands, so Norther had no reason not to use it again. Same goes for the engineering - they can't only rehash their sound! They need to rehash who helps produce it, too! All the production does is help Norther's simplistic, poppy formula by giving it a thicker sound with a lot of warm tones. There's no more chilly feeling that the earlier albums gave, even if the same type of music is being played. There's no chilly atmosphere, the leads don't have the same flare they did in the earlier albums, and the soul in every song is still mostly non-existent. It doesn't matter how increasingly trendy, melodic, and domesticated this music has become - the result is still the same. Also, what use did the new drummer add? It's the exact same pacing that Hallio did on the past four albums, and it has no other purpose than to support a rhythm. Such a well-produced, well-mixed kit and the drumming is very average.

Power metal influenced melodic death, much like early / mid era Children Of Bodom, had something to build off of. Norther, however, have kept the same sound - the same mediocre and lackadaisical sound - and tried to go real edgy and modern with it. The plastic, polished, modern melodic death accompanied by lyrical-diarrhea drags on and on, song after song, until it runs through itself over and over. It's the same boring ideas with no drive or passion. Even the last album had poignancy in "Omen", and that album is a complete fucking bomb. On the subject of poignancy, what the hell happened to Kristian Ranta? The man's gothic-leaning cleans are supposed to sound somber and soothing, but here it's still thrown into whatever chorus catches any attention until the next song kicks in. They sound way too awkward and forced into performing vocal lines that just suck. They aren't catchy at all on the entire album, so what the hell was the point of using them? Same goes for Petri's strained, arid screams, but that's been the same since he opened his mouth on the first band recording.

The writing style of all Norther songs is horrible and holds true to all metal-money-grabbing textbook rules: tame harsh screams, clean production, straightforward structure, and hooks! Gotta pad with those hooks! The rhythm section is pounding away and as verbal as they can be given the above parameters, but don't even let them get a little out of hand! It's all about... what? Chugging riffs, metalcore harmonies, sappy keys, and harsh / clean vocals, and it shows how little compositional prowess this album has. You can tell how much effort went into the album when the compositions themselves suck. For a band built off of soaring leads, an angst edge, and pop simplicity, it doesn't help when the band can't even accomplish any of that. Oh wait, don't forget throwaway electronics diluting all the aforementioned, lovable traits.

Only thing I'd give an ounce of nod to is "Always & Never" and maybe "Self-Righteous Fuck" (ugh, that title), and that's for Jukka Koskinen, not the songs. His bass moments in the song, when isolated, are pretty damn cool. There's Iron Maiden-esque grace with the bass going on at certain times, like in these two songs, but most of the time it's guitar-support. Koskinen's probably the only member of the band that could immediately go to another band and have some impact. His death growls, however, added nothing to the album (in the few places they showed up). Put Koskinen's bass lines in a song with competent writing, and something magical could come of it. It wouldn't happen in Norther, though, because the band is incapable of writing even one overall great song.