Midnattsol - Nordlys 3.5/5

Reviewed: 6-13-08





Tracklist:

1. Open your eyes
2. Skogens lengsel
3. Northern light
4. Konkylie
5. Wintertimes
6. Race of time
7. New horizon
8. River of virgin soil
9. En natt I nord
10. Octobre (bonus track)


Midnattsol, whose name is Norwegian for 'Midnight Sun', is back with their 2nd CD 'Nordlys', the follow-up to their fairly successful debut 'Where twilight dwells'. For those unfamiliar with the band, they're fronted by the lovely Carmen Elise Espenaes (featured at the right of the cover artwork) - the sister of Liv Kristine, who's the vocalist of Leaves' Eyes, but is also known for her past experience with Theatre of Tragedy and for her current solo career. While the 2 sisters sound similar, I do think it's quite easy to tell them apart, though both are excellent vocalists and favorites of mine. Midnattsol contains one other female, and it's bassist Birgit Ollbrunner (featured at the left of the cover artwork), meaning the remainder of the band members are male.

Midnattsol's style is a blend of gothic metal, symphonic metal and power metal, but with some folk elements, though there probably isn't as much of a folk influence on 'Nordlys' as there is on 'Where twilight dwells'. As a whole, the band falls somewhere in the middle of Angtoria, Mena Brinno, Elis, Leaves' Eyes and Almora, all of which are excellent bands in my mind. One difference between Midnattsol and these other bands however, is that some of their songs are sung in Norwegian, which is something that doesn't increase or decrease the quality of the band.

Just like most CDs, 'Nordlys' has its positive aspects and unfortunately a weak aspect as well. For starters, the band does a great job of mixing up the tempo and offering up a fair amount of speed. When it feels like it's time for a slow song, we get one, and when it feels like it's time for a fast song, we get one. Really, the tempo is a very strong aspect of the CD, as is the wonderful voice of Carmen, whose soft yet confident vocals fit the music perfectly. Plus, 'Nordlys' continues in the same style of 'Where twilight dwells', which should be pleasing to fans of the debut.

As for the CD's small yet important weakness - simply put, it's the songwriting. While the tempo is great and the CD flows extremely well, it's not a thoroughly fantastic CD and I've even found the debut to be just a bit more memorable. Besides the catchy track 9 "En natt I nord" and the bonus track "Octobre" (which is sung by guitarist Daniel Droste - his only vocal appearance) that close the CD, there aren't really any highlights and nothing completely sticks in your head - leaving you wanting to spin the CD over and over again. Still, even though 'Nordlys' isn't an improvement over the already great 'Where twilight dwells', with its strong vocal performance and well done variety of pace, it's recommended if you have and enjoy the debut.



CLINT




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