Released: 2003, Spinefarm Records
Reviewer: Luxi Lahtinen
DREAMS OF ENDLESS WAR, these young Finnish metal warriors´ debut album under the Norther –moniker, gained lots of recognition both in good and bad and ripped opinions for two different camps due to its strong C.o.B. –influences. Many said that Finland has this somewhat odd tendency to produce new and very talented metal bands constantly, but the other half just saw Northern as another Children of Bodom –clone for a reason that I clearly understood myself, too. The Bodom –influence was definitely there as a very strong and obvious element – and no, I wouldn´t see any good enough reason to deny that at all. But on the other hand, some of us seemed to forget that we were dealing with a bunch of very skilled musicians here that obviously would have kept on going to churn out their own highly melodic ´bodomesque´ metal and not caring for any criticism that they may or may not have deserved due to the recently stated facts.
MIRROR OF MADNESS is a clear step further from Norther into less Bodom –infested soundscapes even if the hard fact still remains the same; the new songs still tend to possess some familiar and may I say, ´safe´ C.o.B. –sound particles here and there even if the amount of them has been decreased quite radically on Norther´s second effort which is of course a good thing in my opinion, especially now when C.o.B. have taken some leaps toward a more aggressive and brutal expression on their latest album HATE CREW DEATHROLL. The Norther –camp has luckily done just the opposite thing and dropped some tempo out of their songs and replaced it with some damn catchy yet very melodic sections as well as some extraordinary well-arranged mid-paced parts that make their songs stand out a lot of better compared to the outcome of their debut album DREAMS OF ENDLESS WAR that was accused heavily of a plain C.o.B. worshipping more or less. However, Norther is nowhere near by all those somewhat ´tricky´ and overly ´complex´ elements that the Bodom –boys are master to deliver on their albums. Where C.o.B.´s music is mostly based on a relatively strong aggressive Thrash –elements, especially on their latest album, I think it´s not a bit of misleading to say Norther has put more weight on Power/Traditional Metal parts on this new killer album of theirs. Also, I think the guiltiest person to remind us C.o.B.´s existence on MIRROR OF MADNESS is the band´s ´slime thrower´ and guitarist Petri Lindroos for having lots of common with Alexi Laiho vocal-wise – and yes, partly guitar-wise as well, ´coz it´s actually this lil´ familiar tone of his vocals that will most probably make you to compare Norther to Bodom´s ´campfire metallers´ quite easily indeed. But don´t worry, ´coz that´s what happened to me, too - and I guess Mr. Lindroos doesn´t deny some of these obvious similaries to Alexi´s throat outburst either.
Nonetheless, MIRROR OF MADNESS is definitely a more mature and a tighter package from these young metal musicians all in all and clearly shows that the guys have been able to improve and bettering their songs quite a lot compared to their already hope-arousing debut that was released last year through Spinefarm Records, too. Right now, my recommended picks off the album could be such ´near-hit-potentially-cutting´ songs as “Blackhearted (due to its very memorable chorus part… simply excellent!)”, “Betrayed”, a relatively ´Bodomesque´ “Cry” and the title track “Mirror of Madness” which also has some ´obligatory´ C.o.B. –ingredients raging through it in some rather familiar way, even if it didn´t disturb me a bit.
Now I´m assuming some of you already will be placing Norther´s new yet very entertaining album quite near to the top of your shopping list…