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Go to Amazon.com and go to any of the Norther Till Death Unites Us full-length pages. Scroll down and what seems to be either one of the page's standout reviews? A review from yours truly from nearly six years ago. Holy cunt that's a while ago, and I have no problem leaving it up there as to remind myself that tastes can change for anything.
The same polished production is once more used to define Norther's crystalline sound. That's crystalline in terms of clear mixing, loudness, and booming, aimless angst. The guitar tone has been touched-up to give it a fatter feel with more sustain, which helps the mindless riffing going on in practically every song. Nice way to mix it up with the same rehashed ideas as before, kusipääs. The melodramatic, hammy formula moves further into modern metal territory in terms of heaviness, but the same flair-filled, extravagant leads coupled with sturdy sounding riffs isn't going anywhere. The soaring harmonies of "The End Of Our Lives", the crushing plumpness of "Everything", or the hostility of "Fuck You" - none of it has any soul. That's the main complaint - nothing on here is worth anything at all. Poor songs with the exact same structure, the same poorly thought arrangements, the same gimmicky attitude, and the same power metal-slanted melodic death tag to encompass all of the music's shittiness.
Tony Hallio's last effort with Norther shows no improvement whatsoever. He can be relied upon to drum for the sake of keeping pace, and for that much he meets the standard. He's replaceable, as well as the cold kit he sat behind up to this point. His glossy crashing and tin snares will not be missed. Lindroos I'd put in the exact same category as the other founding member that bailed and showed no improvement and no variation in his vocals since the very beginning. The man can be relied upon to do desiccated, strained, shallow screams, much in the same way that a fucking baby can be relied upon to breathe on its own. The man is also easily replaceable, both as a vocalist and as a guitarist. Lindroos and Ranta had their moments on the previous three albums (the former two more than the third), but there's almost nothing at all on this album that'd constitute these two playing all-around well-crafted riffs, solos, or harmonies.
Ranta's clean vocals are featured prominently on three songs: "Omen", "Alone In The End", and Wasted Years". Their pukey, Val Kilmer likeness is not without some form of praise, but it won't be given on behalf of "Alone In The End" and "Wasted Years". Both of these songs are the same tepid garbage that the band has been spewing for the whole album, and the cleans are an added slap in the face. They're awkward and ill-fitting with these two songs.
What Ranta's low, warm cleans need is a gothic type of song that is solely built around a dreary melody and chorus that'll bring out the passion in such a voice - "Omen" is that song. Of all the bashing that this album deserves, I still have a soft spot for this very song after all these years. I don't care for its distant hints of sounding like "Nemo" by Nightwish, nor do I care about how simplistic, poppy, and ultra-tame it is while trying to remain harsh and ballsy. I don't care about any of that because Kristian Ranta's clean vocals during the chorus are soothing as all hell. The lyrics are appallingly bad, as they are on the rest of the album, but to hear his cleans properly utilized is another one of Norther's high moments of sugary sweetness that I can't help but love.
Hallio bails immediately after this album, Lindroos bails after the next album, Ranta needs to bail and start writing competent vocal lines, Koskinen needs to bail and hound Jari Mäenpää, and Planman needs to bail and do session (if that) for revolving Finnish bands. At this point, no one needed to stay in Norther. There was nothing keeping this band together, as the passion that had some kind of kindling was ashes by Death Unlimited. "Omen" is nice little track, but holy hell is this album a bomb.