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An obvious emulation, but a good one as well. - 78%

hells_unicorn, January 1st, 2009

With all of the success that Ensiferum has enjoyed even after Jari’s exodus, you’d think a band that all but completely follows in their footsteps would be instantly picked up by a major label, but more than a year to the day that this rather impressive demo was put together Northland is still an underground sensation racking up a respectable play count on Myspace. Granted, the band claims a healthy variety of influences, but barring the occasional Primordial sort of Celtic tinge to some of their melodies and a Fairyland/Rhapsody Of Fire approach to keyboard atmosphere, they basically fall heavily into the Ensiferum brand of folk metal.

In terms of execution, this is a very well put together demo for something accomplished without the aid of either a label or a professional studio. The flow of the songs is well maintained, everything is basically audible and the drum production lacks that dead, trash can character that many independent demos often exhibit. The guitar sound is a little too heavy on the gain, resulting in the muted sections occasionally sounding a little mushy, and the drums are just a tad too low in the mix and robs this of some of the power that it feels it should have. The vocals and the keyboard atmospheres, however, are basically perfect in their realization and help to paint over the flaws in the mix, though as a result the listen is pretty light in comparison to what was heard on Ensiferum’s “Iron”, though surprisingly of higher quality than all 3 of said band’s demos.

There are some heavy parallels to “Victory Songs” on here, almost to the point of sounding akin to the practice of writing variations on the themes of other composers that was commonplace a couple hundred years ago. This is particularly noticeable right at the beginning of “Where The Heroes Die” where they all but outright quotes the first 1/3 of the principle theme of Ensiferum’s latest release. “The Awakening” takes a somewhat different route and sounds like a simplified version of Wintersun’s “Battle Against Time”, lacking any flamboyant blast beats and technical guitar/keyboard showmanship, but instead going for an atmospheric blending of the song with the character of Ensiferum’s music. Regardless, all of the songs on here are quite enjoyable, despite that you get the sneaking position you’ve heard them before.

Apart from maybe a slightly harsher emulation of the black metal shrieks out of principle vocalist Pau Murillo and a clean voice that is more reminiscent of Quorthon than Jari Mäenpää, the distinguishing traits between Northland and Ensiferum are few in number. This is a good release for the style it is in, and when compared to the large number of folk acts coming out of the Scandinavian area it is a cut above most, but the band would do well to bring out some of the other influences within the power, melodic death and black metal genres that the band touts, as only a few really come through. The potential is definitely here, and with a little more individual character this act could rival and perhaps even surpass the current manifestation of Ensiferum.

Originally submitted to (www.metal-observer.com) on January 1, 2009.

Let's play Spot the Plagiarism! THERE IT IS! - 55%

BastardHead, January 1st, 2009

Have you ever heard of Ensiferum? You know, that mega popular folk metal band that so masterfully blends folk influences with power metal? If the answer is yes, then you may as well skip over Northland. Freezing Sadness is the name attached to this demo, and it's actually rather surprising that Northland remains unsigned. Ever since Ensiferum's cult popularity got so incredibly large, I figured that big name labels like Nuclear Blast or whatever would jump on this sound; and considering Freezing Sadness uses some of the exact same melodies as Iron and generally sounds like little more than a carbon copy of Ensiferum, Northland would logically be one of the first bands to be picked up. Nevertheless, here we are, knee deep in six Spaniards' pretentious foray into the sonic territory that a certain Finnish group opened up.

Nothing here is offensively bad, just really bland. I hate to keep comparing this to Ensiferum, but there really isn't much else to compare this to. The opening track, "Where the Heroes Die..." uses melodies heard on Ensiferum's "Into Battle" and even a few themes from Victory Songs. Whether this was intentional or not is completely up to the reader/listener to decide, but the resemblance is uncanny nonetheless. Fruity, bouncy keyboard melodies are strewn liberally over the top of some decent riffs and mediocre drumming, but they don't seem too out of place, so that's a plus. The subtle use of background choirs adds a nice atmospheric touch at times, but they never shut the fuck up, so they really lose their mystical quality quickly. The demo also stays at a fairly mid-paced tempo throughout the duration apart from "Warriors of Ice" and parts of "The Awakening", which really pick up the pace. I also feel it deserves mention that the production is fairly okay for a band's first demo. The vocals are mixed kind of high and the guitar is a really bad distortion sound, but it's not terrible. This isn't necessarily bad, just... there. Freezing Sadness works as a decent fix for fans of the Power/Folk Metal style, but it won't open any new doors for established fans nor newcomers.

Originally written for www.metalcrypt.com

Could this be why Time is delayed? - 98%

wolvie90, May 17th, 2008

This really sounds like Jari Mäenpää had something to do with it. My first thought was "sounds like a crossing of Ensiferum and Wintersun". More folkish than Wintersun, and more epic than Ensiferum. This group of young Spaniards seem to pick up where Ensiferum left off. Lets face it, Victory Songs was a bit of a disappointment.

Sure it's only five songs but five really good ones. They're all intense and fast, in the same vein as bands like Wolfchant, Equilibrium and the aforementioned Ensiferum. The folkish melodies of the guitars and the keyboards are in perfect harmony. It's the kind of melodies that go straight to your heart on the first spin, and the keyboards brings a very epic atmosphere to it.

The drum work is fairly simple, double bass beat is used frequently and nothing more is needed. No fancy technical stuff here. There are some blast beat parts but not many.

The vocals are high pitched screams for the most part and can easily match Jaris. Since basically the whole band backs up the lead vocalist we get really powerful screams on many parts. There are almost no clean singing here that we usually get with these bands, which could be kind of a set back to some. Really nothing more to say here, the lyrics are the same kind of epic fantasy tale-ish stuff we usually hear in this genre.

Production is solid, if I had to complain on something I would say it is a little bit bass heavy sometimes, but that could just as well be my stereo equalizer settings thats the problem.

A quick summary then. This is the best debut I've heard since Ensiferum. Its probably as epic as it can get. Its free to download from their homepage so I recommend it to everyone.

Killer tracks: Five equally awesome songs.