Northward - Northward

NORTHWARD

NORTHWARD

Nuclear Blast Records

Released: October 19, 2018

 

2018 is definitely the year of side-projects and impressive comebacks. So far we had albums from Sault, Auri, My Indigo, Mike LePond’s Silent Assassins, Purest of Pain, Myles Kennedy, Lione / Conti, Amanda Somerville’s Trillium, to name a few; we also had news about Ville Valo’s collaboration with iconic Finnish rock band Agents, and about Roy Khan’s reunion with Conception, as well as comebacks from A Perfect Circle, Seventh Wonder, Midnattsol, Dimmu Borgir, Orphaned Land, MaYaN, Ex Libris, among many others. But the crowning jewel of side-projects is undoubtedly Northward, the brainchild of Dutch wonder Floor Jansen (Nightwish) and Norwegian axe-man Jørn Viggo Lofstad (Pagan’s Mind), who met during the ‘All Star Jam’ at ProgPower USA in 2007 and noticed the creative spark between them. Started as a let’s-jam-and-see-what-happens type of thing back in 2008, they quickly wrote an album’s worth of songs, but due to their tight schedules with their main bands, Northward took a decade to fully come to fruition. If not for Nightwish’s break in 2017, when Floor contacted Jørn and thus resurrected Northward, this rock album might not have seen the light of day, or it might have taken longer until it’s release.  

 

Tracklist:

 

While love died

Get what you give

Storm in a glass

Drifting islands (ft. Irene Jansen)

Paragon

Let me out

Big boy

Timebomb

Bridle passion

I need

Northwards

 



 Different from either Nightwish (or After Forever, or ReVamp for that matter) and Pagan’s Mind, Northward is a rock project, based on a shared love for stripped down hard rock music, with influences ranging from Skunk Anansie, Halestorm and Alter Bridge, to Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple, and many more. As a metal fan, listening to this album (and to rock music in general) I am and will always be impressed with what you can get from just the basic tools – guitars, bass, drums, and vocals, without any type of backing orchestration, choirs, or layered vocal harmonies; it’s such a breath of fresh air, especially since most bands seem to go for the most bombastic and epic sound they can possibly get. And while there is nothing wrong with that (heck, I am really enjoying the epicness of Seventh Wonder’s “Tiara”), every now and again it’s wonderful to sit back and enjoy something so straight-up rocking yet very beautiful. Floor Jansen once again proves just how versatile she is as a singer, and many times I couldn’t help but compare her to Lzzy Hale (Halestorm), my favorite female rock singer. Needless to say, I am quite impressed with Floor’s rock voice, and with Jørn Viggo Lofstad’s guitar skills (especially with those groovy guitar solos on “Let Me Out” and “Northwards”).

Northward is everything you would expect it to be, and then some more. It’s lively, it’s dynamic, it’s heavy, it’s emotional, it’s rocking, it’s melodic, it’s diverse and it’s thoroughly enjoyable. And the first singles released, “While Love Died” and “Get what you give”, (also the first 2 tracks) are the perfect introduction to both the band and the album. Where most rock bands seem to focus on heaviness and guitar work, Northward, in true European style, also focuses on melody and rhythm, and I very much love the vocal melodies all though the album, but especially on “Storm in a Glass” and “Paragon”. There is also a certain amount of sensibility and emotion in the songs, which coupled with Floor’s vocal delivery and Jørn’s melodious guitar playing (either electric or acoustic), make this album a very delightful collection of songs. And the best examples here are the rock anthem “Paragon”, the acoustic piece “Bridle Passion”, and the atmospheric track “Northwards”.  

 

But then there are also the hard and heavy cuts, like the duet with Irene Jansen, “Drifting Islands”, where the dynamic between their vocals gives this song a fair amount of aggressiveness and edge. Originally this duet was planned with Myles Kennedy, and I hope this vision will happen in a live setting, one day. Worth mentioning are also the up tempo, dirty rocker of a track “I need”, with its groovy guitar lines and powerful vocal delivery, and the experimental, borderline disco track “Big Boy” which has a chugging guitar riff, and some sassy lyrics to go along with the playful vocal delivery. Another beautiful moment is the power ballad “Timebomb”, which despite a heavy intro, soon goes to being slow and gentle, with acoustic guitar lines and soulful vocals, but it builds up in intensity, especially around the super catchy chorus, and the excellent guitar solo. The energetic “Let me out” seems to burst with life and passion, with rhythmic guitar parts and lively vocals. I have to say that there is a neat balance between the voice and the guitar, neither one overpowering the other, but still both equally predominant on the album, either on their own, or balancing each other.

All in all, Northward is a very well composed and put together album, with a great pace and flow to it. Each song has its own personality and don’t seem to follow a certain formula, which is probably the album’s best feature. Definitely one of the best releases of this year, and a strong contender for Album of the Year.

 

Rating: 10 / 10

 

Links:

https://www.facebook.com/northwardband/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/northwardfans/

https://www.instagram.com/northwardband/

https://www.northward.rocks

 

By Andrea

27/10/2018

Line-up:

Floor Jansen – vocals

Jørn Viggo Lofstad – guitars

 

Additional musicians:

Morty Black – bass

Jango Nilsen – drums

Stian Kristoffersen – drums

Ronny Tegner – piano