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Northward - 'Northward' Album Review


1. While Love Died

2. Get What You Give

3. Storm In A Glass

4. Drifting Islands

5. Paragon

6. Let Me Out

7. Big Boy

8. Timebomb

9. Bridle Passion

10. I Need

11. Northward

Northward are a duo consisting of Floor Jansen of Nightwish and Jørn Viggo Lofstad of Pagan's Mind, it is a relatively straightforward Hard Rock project without the Symphonics or Progressive elements of the two artists' main projects, the album 'Northward' is their first release although the pair first began working together in 2007 the recording was delayed by scheduling problems, so here is an album which has ostensibly spent 10 years on the back burner while the two musicians worked with their other bands.

As I said this is not so Progressive or Symphonic as Pagan's Mind or Nightwish but it is by no means a bland album, it carries itself well, no doubt buoyed by the talents of the duo themselves and the musicians brought in to record the album. There are some great heavy moments here, some interesting dynamics and Jansen's vocals soar and swoop, while Lofstad's guitar work is intelligent and efficient, there are a few blistering guitar solos but there's a definite sense of dynamism in the guitar arrangements which kept things interesting throughout, this is, as mentioned a relatively straightforward Hard Rock project but it does benefit from some breadth in the dynamics and arrangements no doubt carried over from the pair's work with Nightwish and Pagan's Mind.

The album opens as described, a Hard Rock album, some impressively powerful songs are hurled at the listener one after another in quick succession. Which is great, just what you want from a Hard Rock act, but where I found the album to come alive was on (and more especially after) "Drifting Islands" which features Floor's sister Irene as a co-lead vocalist, an obviously great fit singing with her elder sister to the point where I found it difficult to discern between the two. After "Drifting Islands" things calm down a little on the opening to "Paragon," acoustics and clean electric guitars abound on this song giving a sense of space until we are hit with the blistering ferocity of the chorus.

There are a few slightly more quirky tunes on the latter half of the album, Big Boy is a peculiar beast which seems to be delivered with tongue firmly in cheek. While despite a brief explosive intro "Timebomb" has another more dynamic arrangement with quieter, cleaner, acoustic verses building to the driving choruses. The album even calms a little more as the next track "Bridle Passion" is a delicate acoustic guitar and vocal piece. There is certainly more diversity in the second half of the album and while "I Need" is driven on by a compulsively forward moving guitar riff and drums, the album's closer (and title track) "Northward" manages to brings the album to an epic close, full of some fantastic lead playing.

Northward is the first time I've listened to anything from either Floor Jansen or Jørn Viggo Lofstad, but it's clear the pair are a good songwriting team and the album bristles with energy, particularly from around "Drifting Islands" onward. A good album, worth the wait the pair had from first writing together to it's recording and release.

Review - Mike McLaughlin

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