Released: 2008, Century Media
The tag “Children of Bodom clone” has never bothered me the way it bothered a lot of people. Firstly, I’m a Bodom fan, so if you want to play in that style, it’s fine with me. Secondly, other than blatant copying, I’m not going to be too fussed about sounding like another band. If it’s well played and has some artistic merit in its own right, I’ll give it a listen. Norther, on their latest record N, have tried desperately hard to step away from the tag “COB clone”. They have tried to distance themselves from the success that COB have garnered, and they’ve tried to forge their own sound. For that they must be commended.
But this album is really…boring. Nothing much ever happens in it. The riffs don’t stand out one iota. This is not really surprising because I’ve never heard anyone speak of Norther riffs. I don’t remember a single Norther riff myself. But on N, they are not just mediocre, they need active forgetting! Boring, midpaced, down-tuned melodic death riffing that really doesn’t progress anywhere, and just sort of meanders around pointlessly. There’s no conviction in the guitar. You know you’ve hit rock bottom when the best riffing is in a song called “Self-Righteous Fuck” (which is probably the best song on the album, sadly). The leadwork too is shocking, too far back in the mix to make an impact and buried in the morass of bass heavy rhythm guitar and synth.
Ah yes, synth. On N, it sounds like a Guitar Pro sample, honestly. Poorly done. But fuck me, I’ll take bad synth over the techno crap that they put on “Always & Never”. Awful. Painful to listen to. The harsh vocals are forgettable, the clean vocals are surprisingly okay, and the drumming is merely competent.
It really pains me to write this, because I’ve been a fan of Norther for quite some time now. I liked DREAMS OF ENDLESS WAR and MIRRORS OF MADNESS; they were for the most part competently done “COB metal”, but I didn’t mind. I liked the music. But this album is a real turn-off. There’s not a single redeeming feature that I can hear. Like I said, the only thing that one can congratulate them on is them finally cutting off most musical ties with Children of Bodom. Whether that’s at the expense of their songwriting is debatable, I leave it to you to judge. For me, this is a sore disappointment.