Northward is what happens if you take a phenomenally talented symphonic metal singer and a progressive power metal guitarist and afford them the opportunity to get creative. It is not what you would expect. The singer is Floor Jansen of Nightwish, the guitarist Jørn Viggo Lofstad of Pagan’s Mind who spontaneously performed together in 2007 during the ‘All Star Jam’ at Progpower USA. This serendipitous union was explored in a project that yielded an album of material in 2008. However due to time and duty constraints it is only now being released after revisiting the material in 2017. Jansen has said that this gap has allowed her to experience, reflect and improve upon her rock leanings.
What Jansen and Lofstad have created is very much in a classic hard rock vein which is fiercely feelgood and makes no compromises. Jansen states
“The music is melodic, but also in your face and kick ass rock. Cool riffs, good melodies, tasteful arrangements. We would simply like to call it ‘Good Music'”, commented the singer and adds: “We wanted to explore a basic rock sound, with drums, bass, guitar and vocals. Not the heavy layers of keyboards, choirs etc.”.
What she neglects to mention, is that free of the constraints and expectations of singing in an operatic/ symphonic metal style Floor can rock your socks off! Lofstad demonstrates a versatility of style which is a joy to hear. Morty Black (TNT) plays bass, while drums were handled by Jango Nilsen and Stian Kristoffersen (Pagan’s Mind) with Ronny Tegner (Pagan’s Mind) on piano for one track.
Opening with their first single release ‘While Love Died’ we are introduced to a rather good, upbeat hard rock band that is sure to get your feet tapping and head bobbing. It’s too easy to think it’s a little bit Halestorm with a hint of Foo Fighters, but then you realise this was composed before Halestorms first album… Settle in and enjoy!
Get What You Give is the second single and also the second album track and is even more bombastic than the previous release, complete with rousing vocals and an acoustic guitar solo! Storm in a Glass has a slightly more ‘pop’ feel but is more Heart than the Hoff (David Hasselhoff that is).
Drifting Islands features Irene Jansen (sister of Floor) harmonizing gloriously with her differing vocal timbre. The chorus is powerful and there’s great guitarwork by Lofstad. Paragonis a beautiful ballad and the percussion is delightful. It’s gentle, subtle and emotional with kick ass guitar work from Lofstad. Let Me Out brings us back to rock anthem territory Big Boy ups the grooves which starts as a more bluesy hard rock affair while Timebomb is a change pace, a powerful ballad with piano.
Bridle Passion is how power ballads would sound in the metal Disney film of my dreams.
I Need is another bluesy, sleazy stomper of a song and the album closes with Northward, possibly the most progressive style track where Jansen demonstrates her staggering vocal range.
This is a most accomplished album and it sounds so fresh, considering it was written a decade ago. I’ll happily wait another ten years for a follow-up, lets hope it doesn’t take that long.
- While Love Died
- Get What You Give
- Storm In A Glass
- Drifting Islands
- Let Me Out
- Big Boy
- Bridle Passion
- I Need
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