* Petri Lindroos - Vocals and guitar (1996-)
* Kristian Ranta - Guitar and clean vocals(2000-)
* Heikki Saari - Drums (2005-)
* Jukka Koskinen - Bass (2000-)
* Tuomas Planman - Keyboards and Synthesizers (2000-)
As one of the bands that composes the holy triumvirate of Finnish death metal bands with Kalmah and Children of Bodom, Norther is often compared to those bands. And with the recent release of albums by all three bands, it is obvious that each band is trying to rid themself of the distinction with the others.
Norther's Till Death Unites Us
is no exception. Like any melodic death metal album, it's filled with punchy riffs, harmonized leads, scowling vocals, and atmospheric keyboards. So what's the difference? Well, look no further than the album's first track "Throwing My Life Away."
In "Throwing My Life Away" we see the album's greatest strength, which seems to be the distinct, almost "icy" aura it gives off. Chalk it up to Tuomas Planmen's keyboards, which instead of harmonizing with the guitar all the time, craft a bone-chilling sonic atmosphere for Petri Lindroos's vocals and crushing guitar riffs. The song's intro is an epic blast of keyboards and guitars, with Petri releasing a frightening low growl, which eventually leads into a brief half-time feeling mosh riff. The song is then catapulted into the blistering verse section, complete with harmonized riffs. The chorus, which is rather simple, succeeds on the eerie blasts behind it. After another run through the verse and chorus sections, the listener is greeted with a moshy bridge, with more haunting keyboards in the background. All this leads into a blistering guitar solo by Kristian Ranta.
And that's all in the first song! Stylistically, much of the album is similar. Unlike their more uptempo counterparts, Norther goes with a more subdued approach, using blastbeats sparingly and letting the heaviness come in the riffs, which are downright metalcore at times. This is evident in slow burners like "Everything", "Drowning", and "Omen". And while not as liberal as some bands, guitar solos are present in pretty much every song, with particularly nice licks on "Evil Ladies" and "Throwing My Life Away." "Alone in the End" also features a nice keyboard solos.
But as stated earlier, the album's strength lies in its aura. All of the songs have this somber feel to them, and the keyboards help underscore that feeling, along with Petri's vocals. I can honestly say that this feels more like an album than a lot of the metal albums I have heard, with little filler. The clean vocals are also a nice addition.
The reason the album doesn't receive top marks is simply because although all the tracks are solid, most of them lack variety. You'll notice even after the first few listens that some riffs are rather recycled. The prevalence of the "chug four open eigth notes and follow with two harmonized quarters" riff is quite high.
That aside, Till Death Unites Us
certainly merits a look or even purchase. If you're on Amazon looking for The Black Waltz
, make sure you pick this up. It's definitely one of the best metal titles of 2006 thus far.
Recommended Tracks: Throwing My Life Away
Alone in the End