Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Review: Midnattsol - The Metamorphosis Melody (2011)

Midnattsol [ Website | MySpace | Facebook ]
The Metamorphosis Melody

Featuring Liv Kristine's (Leaves' Eyes) younger sister Carmen Elise Espenæs behind the mic, Norway's Midnattsol is often - and unfairly - presented as a Gothic/folk metal band having much in common with Liv's former and current outfits. I find that nothing could be further from the truth, excepting the family ties of course, with Midnattsol instead having more in common with power metal bands like Falconer and recent Elvenking. The Metamorphosis Melody, Midnattsol's third long-player, occasionally hints at folk and Gothic influences, but is by and large a fairly straightforward power metal affair that fans of Nightwish and Epica will find pleasing.

Throwing Liv Kristine's name around when promoting Midnattsol also has the added side-effect of misleading those unfamiliar with Espenæs' vocal style. The two sisters are truly night and day when it comes to voice, with Espenæs possessing a throaty, operatic style absent the wispy, ethereal upper range that her sister is quite famous for. Still, Espenæs' performance is perfectly suited to Midnattsol's epic, somewhat somber sound. Guitarists Alex Kautz and Daniel Droste (who has recently left the band) work hand-in-hand with keyboardist Daniel Fischer to put together songs that are quite lush, rather symphonic, and satisfyingly well-written. Rarely does the band venture into speedy territory, though, instead preferring to focus on well-paced tracks that are punctuated by somewhat dreamy interludes that allow Espenæs to showcase her talent.

The Metamorphosis Melody is not entirely without folk or Gothic influences, though they are brief. "Goodbye", a strong acoustic ballad, is the most folksy song on the disc while the medieval melodies and strong finish of "A Poet's Prayer" make it an album highlight. "Forvandlingen", with crushingly majestic riffs and a Middle Eastern flair to the leads, gives the album a shot of Gothicness in an attempt to satisfy fans of the style. The remainder of the album is well-written and skillfully executed, though little could be considered to be remarkable. "The Tide" has a very nice guitar tone going on during the latter half of the song, and "Kong Valemons Kamp" is a nice up-tempo head-bobber with some interesting vocal layers during the choruses, but even repeated listens generate little in the way of staying power. The album is solid and enjoyable, for sure, and the only real gripe I have is that Birgit Öllbrunner's bass is hardly ever heard, but I can't help feeling like The Metamorphosis Melody was a bit of a let down.

If you ignore the hype surrounding The Metamorphosis Melody (and Midnattsol in general, for that matter) and accept the album for what it is, you'll find it to be an above average power metal album that fans of style will certainly want to explore further.

Track Listing
2The Metamorphosis Melody5:54
4The Tide4:35
5A Poet's Prayer5:34
7Kong Valemons Kamp6:36
10Motets Makt5:23
11My Re-Creation5:23
Total Runtime56:36

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