Sound — 8
It is always awesome to take a look into a bands past. It is cool to hear songs off of demos that would be impossible to get, and it is nice to see how far that the outfit has matured musically. Immortal Souls has just release Once Upon A Time In The North, an album that does all that and more. This set has two discs. The first disk is Under The Northern Sky, the bands first full length album. Yes, it has the entire freshman full length from 2000 included in the set! That album has not really been changed, and I plan on posting a review for it on this site here shortly. Check that for a review of that album. So not only do you get that, but you also get the disk Once Upon A Time In The North. This disc is a reverse-chronological look at the bands past demos, all the way from the bands humble beginnings in 91 to two never-before released songs. The disk starts out with Painweighted and Down In My Grave, two new songs that sound like they could be on their 2003 sophomore album Ice Upon The Night. Painweighted has a killer melody with some awesome shredding, and Down In My Grave is a catchy blues-metal song that has some nice lead work as well. The next four songs all appear on The Cleansing EP, the EP that was released shortly before Under The Northern Sky. The songs here fit well with the bands sound at the time, as they are slower and focus more on heaviness than melody. The Cleansing is a nice metal song, while Untill, the next song on the disc, takes awhile to start off, but will leave you tapping your feet by the end. Track 5 and 6 follow suit. The next three songs, Snow Soul, Divine Wintertime, and Christ Mass, are all from the Divine Wintertime EP, released in '98. The band was really starting to hone in on their sound and find their own identity on these songs. They are heavy and mid-tempo for the most part. Good stuff. Tracks 11, 12, and 13 are from Reflections Of Doom, released in '95. The band was going through a doom metal phase here, and they are doing that in full force. The songs are slower and intense, with spoken word lyrics that are creepy. The songs are interesting to listen too, but they really aren't that good. I am glad the band didn't stay like this. The final song, Immortal, is a nice, thrashy song from Immortal Souls very first (self-titled) demo released in '95. I like this song a lot, and the vocals are screamed on this one. All in all, this is a very good look at the bands past, and it is fun to see where they have evolved from.
Lyrics — 7
Again, A. Sarkioja, vocals are great on both albums. The lyrics are Christ-centered and very well done. It is also cool to note that his voice has not changed very much since the beginning, which is a good thing. The only complaint I have in this department are the vocals on the three songs from Reflections Of Doom. However, you have to look at it objectively; the band was trying to give fans a sample of past times, so of course they had to include the songs with the doomy vocals. The rest of the vocals are top-notch.
Overall Impression — 9
So here it is, you get Immortals Souls first full-length CD, as well as a disk that showcases songs from all of the demos that Immortal Souls ever put out, as well as two awesome new songs that have never been released. That is a lot of music for your money. Some of the songs on Once Upon A Time In The North are weak, but this is a very honest look at one of Finland's finest metal bands. If you have only heard Ice Upon The Night, you owe it to yourself to pick up this album and check out the roots of this amazing band. Also, singer A. Sarkioja gives a detailed reflection on all of the demos and songs in the little glossy booklet that comes with the CD. That is a nice little touch that adds lots of value to the already huge package. You won't be disappointed. If you are a fan of metal, this is definitely worth checking out. If it got stolen, it would probably be returned to me because people around where I live don't like real metal! Overall I give this album a nine, because of how much awesome music you get in one nice little package. Check this out.