Midnattsol – Nordlys (Napalm Records)

Thursday, 14th March 2013
Rating: 8/10

erhaps best known for featuring Carmen Elise Espenaeas, the sister of Leaves Eyes’ Liv Kristine, Midnattsol (that’s “midnight sun” in case you were wondering), return after a three year layoff with Nordlys. Quite impressive, this sophomore album, as Midnattsol find themselves in the crossfire of both the symphonic and Gothic metal scenes, never giving too much attention to both, but instead straddling a very defined and striking line.

Espenaes is more operatic than sister ever was, a trait that creates some powerful results on “Konkylie” and the big, booming “Race of Time.” Behind her is a streamlined brew of power metal bravado and those palpable symphonic elements that make Mindnattsol sound large and in charge.

Kudos to the aggressive, Gothenburg-friendly “Skogens Lengsel” and valiant “Wintertimes,” two songs that produce a myriad of hooks whether it’s a carefully-crafted chorus or stroke of melodic flair. The obligatory campfire jam “New Horizon” takes up the folk end of the album, while “River of Virgin Soil” follows suit, with Midnattsol ditching the amped-up determination of the first half of the album for something more Guardian-like and epic.

Nordlys will take one by surprise, as Midnattsol’s comforting, reliable mish-mash produces results greater than anticipated. Lots to go around and soak up,Nordlys is one of those albums you almost figure will be overlooked, but then those hooks and caress of sympho-Goth steel creep in and you’re stuck. Bravo.

 www.napalmrecords.com

(This content originally appeared on Blistering.com)