Vera : Midnattsol is back after seven years out of the spotlights, since previous album ’The Metamorphosis Melody’ came out in 2011! It speaks for itself that the Norwegian blonde angel Carmen Elise Espenæs still rules the roast as eye-catcher with her lovely voice and appearance. Those who stayed are guitarist Alex Kautz and keyboardist Daniel Fischer in whose studio they recorded ‘The Aftermath’. Thus he is also producer now. New is ex-Ahab/Stillborn guitarist Stephan Adolph and… last but not least Liv Kristine (ex-Leaves’ Eyes), Carmen’s sister who announced late 2017 that she would permanently join Midnattsol. Her voice can be heard on a lot of songs on the album, although Carmen remains the main singer and initiator of the songs.
This fourth studio album has a very folkloristic nature, yet in some of the songs heavy guitars pop up more often than earlier. That’s how they avoid that it gets too fairy-like and atmospheric. Opener ‘The Purple Sky’ is a good example of that. An instantly haunting guitar melody, folky, a proper outburst and empyrean female vocals. This happens to be a smooth mid-paced song and really suitable to get in the mood. There are loads of vocals on this album, quite logical with two female singers. The high notes naturally come from Liv and at the end of ‘Syns Sang’ you can hear that properly. How much Carmen has developed as a vocalist we can hear in the slightly a capella sung Swedish traditional ‘Vem Kan Segla’. She sings in Norwegian language in the storytelling, deep-draught ‘Ikje Glem Meg’, a rocking tune that mourns for the terroristic attack on the island Utøya.
The longest track on this album appears to be the version of the well-known ‘Herr Mannelig’. I am so devoted to Haggard’s version that it is hard to make comparisons. The Swedish traditional is nine minutes long here, with heavy guitars and low ranged and storytelling chants. It is fine that Carmen gave her own interpretation on it, but in the end it gets a bit too lengthy. Next the main theme of being worried about our planet gets more and more prominent. For instance in the title track, which is a catchy gothic rock track with excellent guitar skills. And at the end in occluding track ‘Forsaken’ in which vocals have a sad undertone, since it is written from the point of view of the last survivor after the complete devastation of earth by stupid mankind. Earlier we can enjoy the brightly sung (more juicy) ‘The Unveiled Truth’ and the long instrumental ‘Evaluation Of Time’. As bonus we get the sensitive ‘Eitrdropar’, referring to the Edda. ‘The Aftermath’ is not as heavy as ‘Nordlys’, but it adds enough marvelous and fervent guitars to the folkloristic foundation of this Norwegian/German band.