Sound — 8
Immortal Souls is truly and ever-evolving band. Even though they have been together in some form since 1991, they didn't release their first full-length album until 2000. This album, entitled Under The Northern Sky, showcases the bands talent, but definitely leaves room for improvement. The fact that this band has been together so long means that this album is very tight for a debut album. The band can play together as a cohesive unit, and it definitely shows. The album starts out with Frostmind, a song that has a nice big drum fill at the beginning and some sharp, speedy riffing throughout. The melody is great, but it definitely plays second string to the heaviness. Guitarist E. Sarkioja can definitely play his guitar, but on this release he seems to be more into making atmosphere than melody, unlike the band's awesome sophomore release, Ice Upon The Night. Anyway, the guitars still sound good, and that is what counts. The next song, The Cleansing, is from the EP they released shortly before the album. It has a nice, up-tempo feel to it and will leave you rocking your head. The next song delivers another nice, heavy, up-tempo riff that you will be humming for awhile. The drums and rhythm section seem to really stand out here, as drummer Jupe Hakola and rhythm guitarist Pete Loisa create a backing that is like a sonic punch. Good stuff. Blue Flamed Fire is the next song, and this is where the record slows it tempo a bit to make songs that are rich and heaviness and atmosphere. This is a very good song. The next song is a song, Snowfalls, is a nice instrumental that starts out with a pretty-sounding acoustic guitar, that builds to a nice, peaceful sounding song with a nice rhythm. The next song on the album starts slow and pounding, but then has some nice metal riffing that seems to pull from thrash a bit. A good song. Song number seven is one of my favorite Immortal Souls songs ever. It is slower, but has a beautiful, desperate sounding melody. It took some time to grow on me, but it definitely is one of the stand-out tracks on the album. The next song, Metsakukkia, is a fast instrumental this is actually an old Finnish folk song. It is nice. Then comes Winterheart, a fast song that is another one of my favorites from this album. It is nice and rocking. Then the last song is a slower song that builds. It is cool, but sort of boring in parts. All in all, this album is not as good as Ice Upon The Night, because the melodies aren't as good as the ones found on said album, but this is still a more-than-great album for fans of melodic metal, death metal, or thrash metal. There aren't as many stand out songs as I would like, but all the songs here are good songs. A great first release.
Lyrics — 7
E. Sarkioja, the singer and bass player has a great, great scream. I love the way his vocals sound. They are heavy and sharp without being guttural and grinding. It is great. The lyrics are Christian based, with Immortal Souls style of taking winter-related themes and using them as metaphors to parallel the Christian faith. There are also some songs about love on here, like Love Demise, but that doesn't detract from the experience. I love the vocals, and I love the lyrics.
Overall Impression — 8
This is definitely an album that is worth your money. It may not be as strong as Ice Upon The Night, but for a freshman album, it is well above par. The production is good, the songs are good, and it is well paced and well played. The only thing that I don't really like is that they sacrificed heaviness for melody in some parts, but maybe that's just because I heard their newer material before I heard this. If it were stolen, I would definitely order a new copy. Do yourself a favor and buy this album. It is worth it.