Sound — 8
Today I have the pleasure of reviewing Midnattsol's new album "The Metamorphosis Melody". This record is a prime example of Symphonic Viking Metal, it combines orchestral elements found in bands Rhapsody with the mighty galloping riffs of Amon Amarth, yet the vocals are what truly sets this band apart. The guitars are powerful and tasty, and there are some powerful solos. In addition the ryhthm section is aggressive and the keys are symphonic. Yet the vocals of Carmen Espenaes really take this band to the next level. Yet it is the guitars that form the majority of the aggression of this band. Midnattsol's guitarist Alex Kautz creates lots of melodic riffs to back up the vocals. Unfortunately the mixing is such that you really have to listen to pick out his playing. He has the notable ability to create equally good acoustic riffs as electric ones. This makes the songs sound a lot more layered and in tracks like The Tide the beauty of the music is accented. Meanwhile the rhythm guitar of Matthias Schuler typically features simple riffs however they add a new level of depth to the tracks His lines are usually galloping and add a lot of the viking feel to the music. He nicely compliments the rhythm section. The drummer and bassist of Midnattsol are fairly good, in particular the drummer Christopher Merzinsky is excellent at adapting to the complicated riffs of Kautz. One strong example of this is the beginning of the track "A Poet's Prayer". On the acoustic bridges the drums become more metronomic while occasionally adding in shimmery fills. The bass usually lies back in the rhythm section supporting the second guitar, occasionally though there are some well done fills but none of them particularly boggle the mind. All in all the rhythm section of this band gets the job done well and they add soul to the songs. Keyboardist Daniel Fischer is a huge part of this band. His keyboards help make the instrumental section unique. With beautiful symphonic sections he makes the band sound massive and beautiful. While none of his lines are overly technical they have an amazing aura that compliments all of the music. Typically the Fischer keeps a more passive position and just adds atmosphere to the music but occasionally he will take charge with his own fills, a particularly good one can be heard during the intro to "Spellbound".
Lyrics — 9
Yet the key thing in this band is the vocals, Carmen Espenaes has a beautiful voice. It is soft yet powerful. Espenaes voice caresses your ears and provides solace from the guitar attack. Her voice soars and is nigh on perfect. The sheer contrast of it is like a babbling brook in a volcanic wasteland. Completely unexpected but very welcome. Her lyrics are typically fantasy based but they are usually rather sad and talk about love. These sad lyrics fit well with the type of voice that Carmen has. In short, Espenaes is one of the best clean singers in modern metal and is definitely worth listening too.
Overall Impression — 9
To finish, Midnattsol's latest effort is beautiful as it is heavy. It features strong guitars with excellent riffs, a decent rhythm section with good drumming, and amazing keyboards. But it is the vocals of Carmen that brings the whole thing to the next level and makes this album unique. Atmospheric and melodically powerful. This album is definitely worth listening too as it is pretty easily one of the best viking metal albums of the year. If you like my stuff find more at twoguysmetalreviews.blogspot.com.