Norther
Circle Regenerated


2.0
poor

Review

by Magnus Altkula STAFF
April 20th, 2011 | 55 replies | 12,843 views


Release Date: 2011 | Tracklist

Review Summary: With competent instrumentation ultimately being overshadowed by sub-par vocals and horrendous choruses, Circle Regenerated shows just how badly Norther miss Petri Lindroos

Petri Lindroos may not be on the level of say, Mikael Akerfeldt or Peter Tägtgren when it comes to frontmen in metal, but he was Norther’s image, sound and persona in human form. So when he left the band in early 2009 to fully concentrate on his other and now only band, Ensiferum, the guys in Norther were left with a big hole to fill. Unfortunately, they did a rather lousy job on it. Not only is Aleksi Sihvonen a weak replacement when compared to Petri Lindroos, he is a feeble vocalist in general.

The reason why I brought that up right away is because Sihvonen’s appalling performance on Circle Regenerated is the album’s greatest downfall. The instrumental side of things is still competent enough here, even if it doesn't hold a candle to the band's first three records that were all excellent melodic death metal pieces filled with lush guitar work. The music on Circle Regenerated sounds safe by Norther's standards, true, but there are a few select memorable riffs throughout the album and Heikki Saari can very well throw in an interesting drum fill or two. Also, when there are solos, they are still in the old fashioned Norther goodness. Alas, all this isn’t enough to save Circle Regenerated, only to soften the blow of the downfalls.

Coupled with Sihvonen’s dreadful vocals that lack range, are grating in tone, and shadow the instrumentation way more than they should, there are also the cheesy synth lines and abhorrent choruses that bring down the overall quality. When on earlier Norther albums the keys were constantly used to emphasize the cold atmosphere of the records, they now bring the cheese more often than help with that task. There are moments where they succeed, like in "Breaking Myself Away", where they complete the sound, on "Falling", where they serve as a nice introductionary tool, and on the final track "Closing In", where they finally truly help out with the atmosphere, but too many a time they sound like they were put in for the sole sake of keeping Tuomas Planman occupied at their live shows. But hey, at least the keys worked on a few occasions, because the same can not be said about the choruses. Plain and simple, there isn't a worthwhile chorus on this album. From cheesy to uninspired to completely out of place, they only break the flow of competent verses and sound even worse than choruses you might find on a mediocre rookie melodeath outfit’s debut, and remember, we're talking about a group that has five full-length albums behind their backs here, so execution and songwriting this weak is in no way excusable.

Believe me when I say that it’s in no way fun for me to rag on Norther here. Dreams of Endless War was one of the first heavy albums I got into and these guys have held a special place for me ever since. But after Petri left and the first demos with Sihvonen surfaced, I knew things were never going to be the same. Petri didn't only took with him his vocal- and songwriting talents when he left, it now seems, because Circle Regenerated isn’t only the worst Norther album, but a one that doesn’t even sound like it came from the same band. That’s not Sihvonen’s fault either, mind you, because the whole feel of this record is much different to that of any other Norther album, in a negative way. On Circle Regenerated, Norther don't sound special anymore. Even though they have been accused of being Children of Bodom and Skyfire clones and what-not before, anyone with even half-an-ear for musical nuances could tell that they had their own sound going for them. Now though, Norther sound just about like your average melodeath band. Only the individual performances by drummer Heikki Saari plus guitarists Daniel Freyberg and Kristian Ranta save this album from being just another nameless generic melodeath record, but in truth, being a weak record from a good band – is that any better?

Kristian Ranta as the main songwriter is still here. Heikki Saari as the talented drummer is still here. Besides Lindroos, the core of Norther is still here. Yet, what isn’t present is the quality we can find on releases such as Dreams of Endless War and Mirror of Madness. The songwriting is a lot safer on Circle Regenerated than it is on any other Norther record, even on the straightforward N, the vocals are sub-par at best (I noted no more and no less than one good scream throughout the whole record: it was about 2.35 into "Believe") and the choruses are dreadful. I can't see or hear the flame that should be burning inside these guys. This is the album where they were supposed to show that the loss of their frontman isn’t going to stop them from writing great music, and they failed. Circle Regenerated isn’t a terrible album musically, but it is a very, very mediocre one. With their next effort, Norther better bounce back, because as of now, they seem to be as lost as their brethren in Children of Bodom who released an equally unspectacular record this year – an album that I expected Norther to easily beat. Sadly, they didn’t.



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user ratings (55)
Chart.
2.5
average

Comments:Add a Comment 
Metalstyles
Staff Reviewer
April 20th 2011



8318 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Can't say I didn't see this coming but I still hoped that this will turn out well. It didn't.

Metalstyles
Staff Reviewer
April 20th 2011



8318 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Season of generic melodeath? I'm hoping it'll come to an end soon haha. And thanks man.

Spinning Dreams of Endless War at the moment to make me feel better and to make me forget they released this steaming pile of mediocrity.

Irving
Staff Reviewer
April 20th 2011



7143 Comments


Great review Metalstyles. Beyond my pos, I have no further comment.

Ire
April 20th 2011



41749 Comments


Dreams of Endless War was my jam in middle school.

pizzamachine
April 20th 2011



12571 Comments


That's a good one.

Metalstyles
Staff Reviewer
April 20th 2011



8318 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Yeah Ire, Dreams of Endless War is damn good/jammable.

Thanks Irving and Pizza.

ffs
April 20th 2011



4819 Comments


i bet ive been norther than these guys

Tyrael
April 20th 2011



20739 Comments


But Mirror of Madness was so good! Great review Styles.

Metalstyles
Staff Reviewer
April 20th 2011



8318 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

lol @ ffs

Thanks Tyraelxy.

Darkvoid67
April 20th 2011



383 Comments


Tracklist looks like it should belong on a KoRn album. Great review styles, but these guys became irrelevant long ago

Metalstyles
Staff Reviewer
April 20th 2011



8318 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

I don't care, their old stuff still rules. And really, I even liked N a lot, so if they'd be able to recrate the quality of that record I'd be happy. Alas, I'm not sure I can ever enjoy a new Norther release as long as they have Sihvonen at the helm.

Crysis
Staff Reviewer
April 20th 2011



16260 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Can't say I wasn't expecting a rating like this. Great review man, sad to hear that the new vocalist is pretty bad.

I can smell this getting trolled from a mile off by angry Scar Symmetry fans.

Haha yeah man they're getting real angry over there in the Unseen Empire thread.

Metalstyles
Staff Reviewer
April 20th 2011



8318 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Can't say I wasn't expecting a rating like this. Great review man, sad to hear that the new vocalist is pretty bad.
I'd actually urge you to give a random song off here a go just so you could see how bad he is compared to Petri.
Haha yeah man they're getting real angry over there in the Unseen Empire thread.
Haha, yeah, seems to be shaping up into another sputnik classic.

Crysis
Staff Reviewer
April 20th 2011



16260 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

I'm definitely going to give this a listen tonight out of pure curiosity.

Metalstyles
Staff Reviewer
April 20th 2011



8318 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Lol curiosity kills man.

Crysis
Staff Reviewer
April 20th 2011



16260 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

It does but I honestly don't understand why they would replace a decent (but not superb) front man with someone who seems so inadequate.

Metalstyles
Staff Reviewer
April 20th 2011



8318 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

I understand their decision to part ways with Petri because his dedication to Ensiferum was holding Norther back, but yeah I also don't know why they picked someone as poor as Sihvonen as a replacement. Like, he sounds really, really grating and how they themselves can't hear it is beyond me.

Raz0rGrind23
April 20th 2011



422 Comments


For the most part I really enjoyed N. Is this really that atrocious?

Metalstyles
Staff Reviewer
April 20th 2011



8318 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Like I said, the musical side of things isn't bad, but overly safe, and the flaws of this record are just really evident and disturbing. Oh and I gave N a 4, so I'm not "hating on their new direction" or anything.

Ponton
Emeritus
April 20th 2011



5784 Comments


Saw it coming, way to bring em down man



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