Though there was a time that I really enjoyed it, I’m tiring of folk and power metal with classical female vocals. I think pretty much everything that can be done with it has been done with it, and frankly, I’d rather hear the women in metal sounding a little more aggressive. Of course, there’s always a chance that a band is going to come along and prove me wrong. Unfortunately for Midnattsol, they’re not that band.

Truthfully, it’s the vocals of Carmen Elise Espenaes that kind of spoil Nordlys for me, at least early on. Musically, it’s fairly entertaining, but I just don’t care for her voice over, say, the galloping riff of “Skogens Lengsel.” Surprisingly, Espenaes is much more enjoyable in her lower registers, when she’s not doing the classical soprano thing. The dark, melancholy “Northern Light” is a great example. On that song, her vocals don’t sound too over-the-top, and it’s more of a Lacuna Coil-type sound. That I can still dig, particularly toward the mid-point of the song when some heavier guitar work kicks in.

There are some fine musical moments here, like the opening of “Konkylie,” which reminds me just a bit of a slowed-down version Judas Priest’s “Electric Eye.” The acoustic guitars that open “New Horizon,” are nice, and for the first time I really like Espenaes’ voice on a song. This is a more traditional folk ballad that reminds me a bit of Blackmore’s Night. That vibe continues with “River of the Virgin Soil,” which is really good. It opens strongly traditional, delivers some nice riffing later on, and it’s probably the best offering on the record. The more traditional side of the music is definitely their strong suit, much better than the faster, more metallic songs. The record also closes solidly with some nice, soaring guitar lines from Chris Hector and Daniel Droste on “En Natt I Nord.”

Midnattsol’s brand of Nordic folk metal is well-played and relatively entertaining, but it doesn’t really distinguish itself. The band would likely be better served playing songs that keep Espenaes in her lower registers or the more traditional numbers. If you’re not tired of female-fronted metal acts with soprano vocals, Nordlys is worth checking out. If, like me, you find the style a bit stale, there’s nothing here that will change your mind.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Fred Phillips
April 26th, 2008


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