Vera : With the folkloristic tinged 'Where Twilight Dwells' and the surprisingly heavy 'Nordlys', Midnattsol has achieved a special place in the scene lately, loved by aficionados of female fronted metal as well as appealing to fans of dreamy, folk-like metal. Midnattsol is a German band with Norwegian Carmen Elise Espenaes as front lady (the sister of Liv Kristine from Leaves' Eyes). The third album 'The Metamorphosis Melody' is finished now and I notice a return to the folk influences of the first album. It does not have to be so heavy as on 'Nordlys', there is room for very compelling timbres in guitar solos, while Carmen's fairy-like voice and the clear guitar sound still reminds me of Amorphis, that remained a main feature in their music.
Why this title? Well, 'Nordlys' hardly hit the stores or guitarist Christian Hector announced his departure. Being part of two bands - he also plays in heavy doom collective Ahab - became too hectic for him. The search for replacement took over a year. But it has to be said that Alex Kautz - that's the name of the new six strings man - perfectly fits in the band. Lyric-wise they deal with the topic of "changes” in all its shapes. Now it seems that Daniel Droste has left Midnattsol in the meantime as well, to support his colleague in Ahab in a proper way. Thus Midnattsol recently lost a few core members.
Yet it has not changed the music in the least. Fortunately and it commands admiration that they succeeded in that. The fact that everybody in the band comes up with ideas during the writing process is the reason. The intro 'Alva' is cinematic and symphonic. Then it passes into the smooth metal with storytelling vocals of the title track. Carmen sings tranquil and self-assured, in harmony with the need of every song and she rarely chooses the path of infamous sopranos. Her roots are obviously more folk-allied. I would rather compare her style with Candice Night (Blackmore's Night) than with any opera diva. Also 'Spellbound' is sung as if Carmen tells a story, but the melancholic 'The Tide' is even better. Plucking guitars are slightly relished with strings, then the whole band joins in, but it remains rather peaceful. There are less - or at least less pompous - orchestral arrangements on this album, making it transparent and sonorous. The production of Markus Stock at Studio E avoids perfectly excess or abundance without making the atmospheric parts sound flimsy or thin. The sweeping guitar solo in 'A Poet's Prayer' (many sturdy riffs as well) and the refined piano intro of the slow 'Forlorn' are marvellous. As usual we have a few songs in Norwegian language, but with the longer 'Kong Valemons Kamp' it is only the title. By the way, that's a real stunner with an Amorphis alike intro and powerful acceleration. When talking about ballads, I'd like to mention the folk hymn 'Goodbye' (with mouth harp and cello), although 'My Re-Creation' also includes a calm beginning. The melancholic 'Forvandingen' with its raging guitars features another beautiful guitar solo and after a dramatic violin intro, 'Motets Makt' turns into a lively up tempo folk song. Enough variegation and artful charms on 'The Metamorphosis Melody', resulting in the best Midnattsol album until now!