posted on 5/2004 By:
Norther, the bane of my spell checker’s existence for lack of a second “N”, has released yet another new album… already? The thing that puzzled me was the quickness of the release. We only just got Mirror of Madness here in the States, and we already have a new album? Now I’m not sure how the European market differs from the American one and when things were released over there, but that’s beside the point. Death Unlimited is here regardless, so fans of Finnish hypermelodic powerthrash rejoice! Norther’s main criticism from metal fans is the fact that they differ little from their countrymen Children of Bodom, Kalmah, and tons of other Finnish metal bands who play this style of music. Death Unlimited is great in that it distances them from their comrades ever so slightly. CoB has a more punkish flair, while Kalmah is more of a mystical band. Norther to me used to seem like a faceless band with no real identity, but they do a better job on Death Unlimited to sort of create some more character for the band. Their lyrics seem much more thoughtful this time around, instead of simple four-word groupings, they almost use sentences with nice, descriptive words that fit the beat and mood of the songs quite well. The main thing that made me like this album more than Mirror of Madness was the fact that the tunes were just much more memorable. Come to think of it, I can’t remember a single tune from Mirror, but I’ve had a good four or five Death Unlimited songs stuck in my head. “Vain” has a great little recurring bass-break with a little piano layered on top of it that I can’t seem to forget. “A Fallen Star” has an odd chorus with a nice twinkling guitar bit in the background. Soloing throughout the album is simply top notch, you will be hard pressed to find a guitar duo more adept at soloing than Ranta and Lindroos. The final track is really the best song on the album, with a great, futuristic keyboard intro and a very high-energy feel. This doesn’t mean this album, or any Norther album is a masterpiece by any stretch of the word. There still exists some problems that plague the band, like their lack of difference in pacing for the most part. They really only do two tempos: the headbaning power-chord and the machine gun pace. Also, as great as the soloing is, I find myself sort of waiting through the verses and choruses just to hear the solos, as the parts that repeat can wear on you after awhile. Again this album does do a better job of addressing some of the monotony issues present in previous albums, but better doesn’t necessarily equate to greatness. Naturally, as a critic, I’m being overly picky, but fans of this genre who are beginning to grow tired of hearing the same sort of thing will feel the same way as I do. Death Unlimited is a step in the right direction for Norther, and it’s arguably their best album to date. But still, it’s not as good as recent offerings from Kalmah and Mors Principium Est. Maybe they should wait more than 8 months for the next album to be released, and in the meantime maybe Google will get rid of their “Did you mean Northern?” problem.
Going Nowhere - Futuristic keyboards with a nice hook
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