is Finnish Melodic Death Metal band Norther
’s third album, released in 2004. Their first two albums, Dreams Of Endless War
and Mirror Of Madness
displayed a furious, melodic and at times Power Metal influenced style of Melodic Death Metal, much like Finnish counterparts Children Of Bodom
. Their first two albums were good, but if Norther really were to shed their ‘CoB clone’ image and progress musically, they’d really have to change things up on this album. Fortunately, they did, as Death Unlimited
breaks the former Norther formula and displays a new sound for the band.
If you’ve heard the first two Norther albums and someone mentions the band, you’ll probably instantly think of the guitarists and their proficient guitar work. But I doubt you’ll be thinking of them like that after you’ve heard this album. The constant onslaught of riffs and leads found on Dreams...
isn't so frequent here. Instead, for a large part of the album, it’s the bass which gets the spotlight: throughout the album the bass is very audible and is given prominent roles in every track, similar to Steve Harris of Iron Maiden
. This gives a welcome change to Norther’s sound, but most of the basslines aren’t incredibly interesting and at times it feels like Norther are trying too hard to change their sound with it. This is still a Metal album though, and the guitarists do exist. The guitar work is toned down a lot: rhythm guitar is pretty much non-existent throughout half of the album (ie in verses of songs it’ll just be drums, bass, keyboard and vocals), which makes the album unnecessarily much less heavy. The bass sometimes adopts a rhythm guitar role, but the riffs generally sound better when the actual rhythm guitarist is playing them. The lead guitar is still good: the solos are a bit slower than previous works but are played with more feeling and are generally composed better. My one complaint here is some longer songs (‘Nothing’, ‘Vain’) lack solos, but for the most part the lead work is consistent. Also, interestingly enough, most solos consist of just one lead guitar with no riff backing it, and others having both guitarists playing lead.
Naturally, due to the lack of guitars the keyboard gets more time to shine. In most places this is good, as during many verses the guitars take a backseat while there’s an up-front keyboard melody (think of Kalmah
), which works effectively and is a nice change in Norther’s overall sound. In some places the keyboards don’t work though, these being the ambient parts throughout the album. Basically, there are songs (‘Nightfall’, the albums un-needed intro, and ‘Beneath’, a pointless interlude) and outro sections of some songs (‘A Fallen Star’, ‘The Cure’), that merely consist of synths playing some ambient-like stuff, which is totally boring and temporarily kills the Metal feel of the album. There are also a few keyboard solos on here, which are okay, but the guitar solos in this band are obviously superior.
The vocals on Death Unlimited
are hit and miss. Petri Lindroos’ harsh vocals sound brutal and consistent, although they do sound very, very much like Alexi Laiho (may bother some). Kristian Ranta makes his vocal debut on the album, and if I’m honest, his clean vocals are poor. See the chorus to ‘A Fallen Star’ – they sound weak and almost cheesy. Fear not though, they're only used in two - three songs, and don't get a very prominent role in each. The choruses on this album are better than those found on previous albums, as Norther added those gang shouts that you probably know from CoB to a few choruses, and they work very well, making some choruses considerably catchy and memorable.
So that’s all there is to Death Unlimited
. The more intense tracks, where there are good, fast riffs, no silly ambient sections and memorable choruses like ‘Deep Inside’ and the title track are top quality stuff, while songs like ‘Vain’ with its lack of main flow and ‘Nothing’ with its recycled riffs are just plain bad. Still, I give Norther
credit for changing their sound so much, and the good stuff on this album is really
good, so this album gets a 3.5.
Day Of Redemption