Released: 2004, Spinefarm Records
Reviewer: Luxi Lahtinen
Finland is largely known for metal bands nowadays that has a relatively good ´scene´ for bands that have all, some more – some less, sounded like Children of Bodom. Kalmah, Throne of Chaos (their debut album MENACE & PRAYER only!) and the latest addition to this list, Norther, being the most prime examples, have strongly been blamed for copycatting Bodom´s sound earlier on their albums, but it´s been good to notice that in the course of time every band has been striving more and more determinedly for their own sound. Throne of Chaos became T.O.C. and turned to shit on their latest album LOSS ANGELES; Kalmah became a heavier and more Thrash –orientated band and on DEATH UNLIMITED, Norther´s third full-length opus, it also sound like the band wants to get rid off their old burden somewhat determinedly as being just a plain C.o.B. –clone act.
And yes, the more you bury thoughts from your head into the songs on DEATH UNLIMITED, the more you become convinced that these young Norther –fellows have started heading their way away from the most transparent and obvious C.o.B. –influences on the band´s most carefully crafted and thought-out album in their whole career so far. You can hear from everything that the guys have paid more attention to their song structures this time than ever before in their history. There´s some certain songs on DEATH UNLIMITED like “Chasm”, “Vain”, “A Fallen Star” and “Day of Redemption” that could be said have finally Norther´s own trademark´ish sound in all of them and should release them (almost) fully from this heavy burden to sound like their, (-eh?) ´big brothers´. Of course there are a few things on the album that still offer you a good reason to say that the Norther –dudes still owe something to Children of Bodom musically. One of those things is Peter´s vocals that have a tendency to remind me of Mr. Laiho´s vocalism quite strongly occasionally here and there on the album indeed, but can we blame him for that? I think we just can´t... Also, there´s quite a lot of the same kind of familiar riffing and rhythms in these fellows´ song structures that can be said to be quite similar to what C.o.B. has managed to do previously on their albums, so the big and ugly ghost of C.o.B. is still lurking around there on Norther´s newest effort rather shamelessly...
Oh well... that fact doesn´t disturb me a bit as the material they have managed to record for their brand-new record, is thoroughly very entertaining to listen to. There are some slower and more melodic sections on DEATH UNLIMITED that you cannot found from the C.o.B. albums at all, are also clearly something that help to bring Norther out from the dark shadow of the Bodom –squad into the light of their own style. For example “Beneath”, a beautifully played acoustic instrumental tune spiced with some keyboard parts, is such a tune that brings in a nice amount of variation on this opus. Definitely a good and clever move from the band to include this type of song for DEATH UNLIMITED in my opinion.
Moreover, the guys´ playing is tight and very technical, full of strong and splendid ideas on DEATH UNLIMITED just like it has always been on their previous two long players as well. I honestly feel an urgent need to spit it out, but they seem to keep on bettering themselves from one album to another both as song writers and overall as a better together welding group playing-wise. I personally think that the musical progress goes on for them in the future, too – the guys of Norther trying to find more and more something of their own for their next albums ahead of them. In the meantime, I recommend you to check DEATH UNLIMITED out as without predicting too hard, it´s gonna be one of the strongest metal album of 2004 that the Finnish metal musicians put out during this on-going year. And I even don´t feel to bet for it...