The first album of Finnish NORTHER was very, very close to CHILDREN OF BODOM. That, so the info, has changed with "Mirror Of Madness". The team had to swallow some criticism for it, like "we already have CHILDREN OF BODOM, ETERNAL TEARS OF SORROW, THRONE OF CHAOS and KALMAH" and in this respect they were right. "Mirror Of Madness" now really has distanced itself a but from the Bodom children around Alexi Laiho, some might accuse them of apparently trying to form the heavier and faster succession of deceased ETERNAL TEARS OF SORROW, but on the other hand I must say that the quality at hand delivers some arguments for sure.
Keyboards mostly act in the background and as a carpetting instrument, apart from a few solos (as for example in "Midnight Walker"), which gives the whole thing some nice atmosphere. Additionally the Finns also extensively use the double-bass, which is a plus in my book, definitely. And the guitar work also is very melodic and brings us quite some nice leads, which somehow loosen up the sound.
That they often work in up beat regions does not come over as negatively as one might think, as they vary the tempo enough to give the song a different shading. The keyboard also comes to the fore, when it is needed to accentuate and the guitarmanship is good, no question. And if you have songs like "Blackhearted", "Midnight Walker" or the strong "Dead" on offer, then you have some damn good arguments already, believe me.
But on to the accusation of NORTHER being a mix of CHILDREN OF BODOM and ETERNAL TEARS OF SORROW...at least they do not copy one band, but two…no, seriously, surely "Mirror Of Madness" is not an album that you could award with the trophy "original", but to put them down as a clone and let them fall would be just as unfair. We live in a time, where we are drowned in releases and many labels apparently have the principle of throwing many releases at a wall to see who sticks. Spinefarm always had been a label to pay attention to quality, not quantity and also in the case of NORTHER nothing has changed there.
Like said before, NORTHER are not original, but are enjoyable and have well done songs, therefore my conclusion: If you already have enough of the above mentioned bands, forget NORTHER. If you like this style and enjoy well crafted and played compositions, then check out "Mirror Of Madness", I like it! (Online September 9, 2003)