Sjak : The seed for the collaboration between Nightwish singer Floor Jansen and Pagan’s Mind guitar player Jorn Viggo Lofstad was already planted in 2007, when during the “All Star Jam” on the Progpower USA festival they both noticed that there was a very strong musical and creative click between them. Despite of the fact that they had never met before, in 2008 enough material was written by the two for a full-length album, but due to the busy schedules of both musicians that one was shelved for an indefinite period of time. During the break that Floor had to take in 2017 because of her pregnancy, she contacted Jorn Viggo again to see whether he was still interested in reviving Northward. That appeared to be the case and now, about ten years after the original writing sessions, this material sees the light of day and it needs to be said that it absolutely has been worth the wait.
The material that is to be found on this album shows very little resemblance with the bands of both artists and that’s just for the better, because otherwise it would have had no use to release the record. How can we describe the musical direction of Northward then? Well, as a matter of fact quite simple as traditional rock/metal with some modern influences here and there. That choice of music style fits both musicians as a glove and both Jorn Viggo and Floor really excel on this record. They know how the bring the best out of each other and, supported by world-class musicians like Morty Black (TNT) on bass and both drummers Django Nilsen and Stian Kristoffersen (Pagan’s Mind), they truly deliver a phenomenal performance.
The playful riffs of Jorn Viggo immediately grab you by the throat and the vocals of Floor Jansen are at times really breath-taking and once more prove that she’s truly one of the very best female metal singers on this planet. The album opens with the single ‘While Love Died’ which is a good indication of what the remainder of the album has in store for you. However good this opening number is, still there are better tunes to be found on the record, like the very catchy ‘Storm In A Glass’, ‘the beautiful sung acoustic ballad ‘Bridle Passion’, the vocal duet with sister Irene Jansen entitled ‘Drifting Islands’, the playful ‘Let Me Out’ and the swinging ‘I Need’, which for me personally is the best track of the whole album.
Everybody will have their own personal preferences concerning favourite songs, but it can’t be denied that this ‘Northward’ debut album is a high-quality affair from start to finish, that you just can’t neglect if you’re a fan of traditional metal. Therefore I hope that, despite of the busy agendas of both musicians, this collaboration will persist, because world-class albums like these should be released more often in my opinion (but then don’t wait another ten years anymore please!). A surprising and very well succeeded release, this ‘Northward’ album!