Monday, May 23, 2011

Norther - Circle Regenerated

Norther
Circle Regenerated
Century Media Records/E.M.I. Music Australia

Although having been looked upon favourably with their first four releases, 2008’s ‘N’, the fifth album from Finnish based melodic death metal outfit Norther, wasn’t greeted with the same amount of enthusiasm that the band were expecting, with many citing the more melodic approach to the band’s sound a major factor in their dissatisfaction.
But while fans were far from pleased with ‘N’, they were even more dismayed when harsh vocalist/guitarist Petri ‘Pete’ Lindroos was dismissed from the group in 2009 after his involvement in Ensiferum started conflicting with his role in Norther. Since then, the band (Who comprised of clean vocalist/guitarist Kristian ‘Kride’ Ranta, bassist Jukka Koskinen, keyboardist Tuomas Planman and drummer Heikki ‘Kermis’ Saari) have replaced Lindroos with vocalist Aleksi Sihvonen (Ex-Imperanon) and guitarist/backing vocalist Daniel Freyberg (Who’s also a member of Naildown), and returned with their latest effort ‘Circle Regenerated’.
Having never been a really big fan of Norther’s work, I was quite keen to see what this new line-up of Norther could produce in ‘Circle Regenerated’. And casting aside the whole debate of the members from the core line-up that remained (Lindroos was the last original member of the band); I listened to the band’s latest effort with an open mind.
‘Through It All’ opens the album in a promising fashion, with the speed and energy levels running on high. Sihvonen’s harsh vocals are well done, if not quite as strong as Lindroos’, while Ranta’s cleaner efforts are kept to a minimum, allowing for a touch of melody in amongst the overall aggressive feel of the song as a whole.
Follow up track ‘The Hate I Bear’ is another solid track, but weakened a little with the greater melodic aspect of the chorus drowning out the heavier verses, while ‘Believe’ managed to retain a strong metallic stance, even with the strong rhythmic component being emphasised within the production.
Unfortunately, not all of the album’s ten tracks manage to keep up in terms of consistency or flow. ‘Truth’ and the semi-ballad ‘Falling’ sound a little too far removed from the familiar Norther sound that many will associate with the band’s past, while ‘Some Day’ could well have emerged from any one of Soilwork’s latter day releases.
Elsewhere, tracks such as the single ‘Break Myself Away’, ‘We Do Not Care’ and ‘Closing In’ sound like the band’s trying too hard to break free of their ‘Children Of Bodom clone’ tag, and in the process have produced tunes that seem devoid of any inspiration or emotional backbone.
As I mentioned earlier, Norther haven’t really done much for me in the past, and I can’t say that ‘Circle Regenerated’ has changed my opinion. While the album does have its moments, I can’t help but feel that the band are still trying to find their feet musically and direction wise after the departure of Lindroos.
Who knows, maybe Norther will finally get it together on their next album. But as it stands, I can’t see older fans fully accepting ‘Circle Regenerated’ as a whole any more than I can see them taking the album’s title on its word.

For more information on Norther, check out - http://www.norther.net/

© Justin Donnelly