Norrhem - Official Website


Koitos

Finland Country of Origin: Finland

1. Alkusoitto
2. Uhrattu
3. Yön Sylessä On Polkumme
4. Syvän Vihamme Liekit
5. Lopussa
6. Taistelo (Aleksis Kivi 1866)
7. Vapaa Sielu Pohjoisen


Review by Felix on December 10, 2023.

We all know the myriads of Finnish hordes that like to celebrate black metal in a very ferocious, raw and grim way. I could drop some names, but come on, you know them. Let’s focus on a formation that takes a significantly other path - although its mastermind and sole composer is also part of Malum (by the way, everybody who has never heard their cruel masterpiece “Son of the Dracul” is a poor creature!). I am not familiar with Norrhem’s debut, but their second full-length “Koitos” reveals influences from albums like “Autumn Roars Thunder” from Darkwoods My Betrothed. Or is this band a kind of new Amorphis, an Amorphis edition that has not totally lost orientation after having told their tales from the thousand lakes?

Either way, the horde allows the keyboards to take the driver’s seat from time to time, some calm but not ambient sequences show up occasionally and even a few Korpiklaani minus happiness elements shimmer through. On the other hand, there are a throaty (rarely clean), black metal hailing voice, fast eruptions, wild double bass rides and more or less merciless guitars. A track like “Syvän vihämme liekit” finds a very good balance between these two conflicting currents. The band’s talent for the creation of effective melodies completes the fascinating picture we see in the best moments of “Koitos”. Already “Uhrattu” recruits a lot of new friends for Norrhem. However, you know that it is comparatively easy to dish up a good opener, but hard and difficult to pen a strong full-length.

Six songs and a short intro form a 40 minutes album. You see, there is a lot of meat on the bones of every regular track. Nevertheless, I cannot find any signs of fat here. Norrhem’s songwriting is competent enough to present attractive structures. Yes, there are a few details I have to get used to, for example the occasionally strange vocals in “Taistelo (Aleksis Kivi 1866)”, but the tempestuous song is brilliant anyway. If there is one track that sees only the rear lights of the other ones, it is “Lopussa”. Yet even this pretty calm and defensive song reaches an absolutely acceptable quality level. The melody is resting in itself and does not lack depth or expression.

Norrhem manage to combine a tinge of melancholy with a healthy aggression. Whenever they reach top form, the keyboards / synthesizers add a quite mystical touch, while the sharp guitars mirror the ruthlessness of fate. Both the keyboards and the guitars profit from the professional production which puts all elements into the right place. Voice, keys, guitars and drums meet on an equal footing and even in the most furious sections, the mix remains transparent and differentiated. It lends “Koitos” this unique Northern elegance that reveals the origin of its creators. No doubt, Norrhem do not give the world something it has never seen or heard before, but they show their skills and their instinct for good black metal impressively. Without being wimps in any way, they add a flavour that (good) bands like Shadow’s Mortuary or Hautakammio will never give you. Therefore they enrich my personal spectrum of Finnish black metal or rather they remind me of the option to choose a somewhat different approach. That’s great.

Rating: 8.6 out of 10

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