A German band with Norwegian singer, not the most common experience. Especially, if this singer listens to the family name Espenæs. No, not Liv Kristine, but Carmen Elise, sister of the former fronter of THEATRE OF TRAGEDY and now with LEAVES’ EYES, this family seems to have a special gene, because also with MIDNATTSOL the vocal performance is superb.
With “Where Twilight Dwells“ the band with the poetic name „midnight sun“ delivers its debut effort via Napalm Records and the Austrian label had already shown with bands like TRISTANIA and SIRENIA that they have a very good hand for Gothic Metal bands, so why should it be any different with MIDNATTSOL? Well, I don’t know, the sextet sounds damn good for sure!
But wait, Gothic Metal is not the right description fort his band, because they are far more than just the next band from this direction, they also utilise Folk Metal, some Viking Metal-like heavier passages and weaves everything into a very catchy, but never shallow whole, which thanks to some double-bass and heavy guitars shows enough bite to complement the epic compositions, accentuating the atmosphere and warm voice of Carmen Elise.
“Lament“, for example, utilises these heavier elements, while an “Unpayable Silence“ is completely built from acoustic guitar, emotional vocals and some keyboards before after roundabout three and a half minutes a dreamy lead guitar joins in, altogether very dreamy and with a lot of potential to pull the listener into another world, where the myths come to life. The track “Desolate”, which had been downloaded more than 4000 times at mp3.de, is now titled “Desolation” and is a very good example for the sound of the German/Norwegian formation, for one with an epic/calm beginning, then also a bit stronger guitars and a Nordic atmosphere in the melodies.
And for the very end they kept a true gem stone, “Tapt Av Håp“. This song starts out very calm and measured, just to rise in intensity and finally lead into an adaptation of Edvard Grieg’s “Solveigs Sang“, which has been fully incorporated into the band sound. Carmen Elise’s voice might not be the most technically proficient one, but with her mid-pitched voice a lot nicer to listen to than many of the sopranos that populate this scene and with the right amount of emotions to complete MIDNATTSOL’s compositions.
The album has a very clear production, with a very tasty and beautiful cover, still with room for improvement (the music, I mean), but for a debut a more than remarkable fear, because they clearly show that they have what it takes to get them high into the upper echelons of the scene and every fan of a mix from Gothic Metal and Nordic Folk Metal should definitely risk an ear! (Online March 6, 2005)