It's not surprising CHILDREN OF BODOM's style has been constantly emulated, the band wagon already at critical mass with groups such as SKYFIRE and THRONE OF CHAOS. Enter NORTHER, another Finnish band playing melodic, keyboard-laden Metal with raspy growls.
A great reviewer once said, "many Black Metal-bands sound similar, many Power Metal-bands even identical". Yes, NORTHER are mimes, but they're talented mimes. The album is well produced, with the usual thunderous drumming, sweeping keyboard melodies, and prolific leads. However, I've always admired CHILDREN OF BODOM for being able to vary their song structures whereas NORTHER resort to a rather formulaic: Intro-verse-chorus-verse-bridge-verse-chorus.
Despite that, it's hard to fault them for anything other than originality. The leads are not overly pretentious, adhering to the tempo of the song while adding catchy melodies between choruses. And unlike CHILDREN OF BODOM, NORTHER's vocals are far more intelligible. This works to the benefit of the lyrics, whose rhyme schemes help give the verses momentum.
The cover of EUROPE's "Final Countdown" is a drab remake that adds a raspy growl but maintains the original plodding beat. DISPATCHED do a much better job, greatly speeding up the verses and adding in lightning fast leads.
Don't be misled by the "Death Metal" label. This is a gross misnomer as NORTHER hardly displays the atmosphere of founding fathers such as POSSESSED, or the aggression of recent acts like MALEVOLENT CREATION. Take away the vocals, and NORTHER sound more like SONATA ARCTICA than KRISIUN.
Bottom line: Catchy, talented, this is really just "fun" Metal and in concert they would be a blast. However some creative ideas wouldn't hurt. "Victorious One" is the best song on the album, embodying many of the aforementioned qualities. (Online February 9, 2003)
Guest reviewer Anish Chari