posted on 4/2008 By:
It wouldn’t be the first time I’ve felt caught out like this, but I’m both grateful yet slightly ashamed for not picking up on Midnattsol prior to this album. Put simply, Nordlys is a very fine listen, and one of the best examples of folk-infused metal I’ve heard this year. To the cynics who would roll their eyes at the very mention of folk or female vocalists, I suggest leaving your prejudices at the door, because this album rocks.
The folk influences of Midnattsol don’t necessarily manifest themselves through the band throwing in a whole bunch of non-metallic sounds and instruments, but more so by incorporating traditional rhythms and nuances into a decidedly metallic framework. And this is one of the major strengths of Nordlys – it’s heavy, catchy and very much a metal album. The track which best exemplifies this is "Race of Time", an album highlight. Some of the riffs in this song are definitely folk-sounding, and yet they’re all played through a distortion pedal and set to breakneck drums, rendering the track one of the fastest on the album.
Other standouts on Nordlys include "Skogens Lengsel" with a memorable closing riff that’s bound to induce heabanging, the moody and introspective "Rivers of Virgin Soil", and the epic centerpiece "Konkylie", which boasts the album’s darkest and heaviest moments. The vocals of Carmen Elise Espenaes are fine, ranging from a high, operatic style to a more accessible mid-range delivery. The best part about the vocals though is that they don’t dominate, giving the excellent playing of the rest of the band equal time in the sun. And you needn’t bother asking about the production on Nordlys. It’s massive, crystal clear and best of all loud.
For those weary about the ever increasing glut of female-fronted metal bands, you may want to take this review with a bit of salt. I admit I’m a bit of a sucker for lady rock, but even considering that, I still have to rate Nordlys. Certainly, there are other reviews out there that haven’t been so kind, but give this band a go. For my money, Midnattsol are definitely one of the better bands of their ilk currently doing the rounds. Nordlys is a diverse, strongly played and well written metal album, and a welcome addition to the class of 2008.
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