Folk Metal / Gothic Metal • Germany
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Midnattsol is a folk/gothic metal band from Germany and Norway. The band was formed in 2002 and features the vocals of Carmen Elise Espenæs. sister of Leaves' Eyes vocalist Liv Kristine. The original lineup of the band also consisted of Birgit Öllbrunner (bass), Chris Merzinsky (drums), Daniel Fischer (keyboards), Christian Hector (guitars) and Daniel Droste (guitars), the latter two members also being of the Funeral Doom Metal band Ahab.

The band recorded a demo which was released in 2003 before signing a contract with Napalm Records. They released their debut album Where Twilight Dwells in 2005.

A second album, Nordlys, was released in 2008. Guitarist Christian Hector announced his departure from the band sometime after the recording of the album. He was replaced by Alex Kautz.

Midnattsol released their third album, The Metamorphosis Melody, in 2011. Daniel Droste participated in recording the album, but left the band before it was officially released.
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MIDNATTSOL Where Twilight Dwells album cover 3.58 | 6 ratings
Where Twilight Dwells
Folk Metal 2005
MIDNATTSOL Nordlys album cover 4.00 | 4 ratings
Gothic Metal 2008
MIDNATTSOL The Metamorphosis Melody album cover 4.06 | 7 ratings
The Metamorphosis Melody
Folk Metal 2011


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MIDNATTSOL Midnattsol album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Folk Metal 2003

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Album · 2008 · Gothic Metal
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Based on how their music is promoted as being ‘Nordic Folk Metal’ it would be all too easy to get the wrong idea about Midnattsol’s second album Nordlys, which was released in 2008. This album, while it certainly does have some folk elements, not least the vocals of their singer Carmen Elise Espenaes, is much more a gothic metal release with only a couple of tracks that really have a dominate folk metal feel to them. The problem with it is that it was promoted as folk metal and it rarely is, so listeners may have come to it and expected one thing and got another, which may have left them with a negative reaction, especially because although it wasn't the most folk fuelled metal album ever made, the group's debut release Where Twilight Dwells was without a doubt a folk metal album.

The songs are however really strong compositions in general once you’ve got over the fact that the album doesn’t exactly contain what it says on the tin. At first listen it may take a couple of tracks to get into the album but in all honesty there isn’t a really bad track on Nordlys, although it does have a couple which don’t quite maintain the quality of its very best offerings. There’s enough variety here to keep the listener interested, although the basic formula is heavy riffs with lead melodies rather than actual guitar solos. They throw in acoustics here and there as required and even a few elements more in common with symphonic metal, such as at the end of Konkylie, which is one of the best songs from the album.

My personal favourite of Nordlys though is one of the tracks where the band really do delivered what they say they do, which is Nordic folk metal, that is folk metal with Norwegian lyrics if you hadn’t worked that out already. The band doesn’t use traditional instruments in it though, still favouring lead melodies played on the guitar to create a folk melody. Others highlights for me are the aforementioned Konkylie, which is the longest piece on the album and in my opinion is Carmen’s vocal highlight, and also Wintertime where acoustic guitars are used to great effect.

Other moments such as the opening track Open Your Eyes, while still good just don’t quite hit the spot the same way that the album’s gems do. The main problem that I have with this one is the way it starts, Carmen’s vocals just do not fit the music, causing it to sound somewhat disjointed, though this is a freak and rare occurrence as far as Midnattsol’s music is concerned, because otherwise everything is pretty solid stuff, although the album as a whole doesn’t make it into classic album territory.

Overall I think Nordlys is a very fine album by Midnattsol, although one must remember not to take this one as folk metal by any means. Because of that though the album may indeed be seen as a disappointment or a dip in the band’s career if you prefer but honestly once you can get over that Nordlys is far from a bad album and is deserving of a pretty high score.

As an extra note on the limited edition, you’ll get one extra song called Octobre which actually adds another level of variety to Nordlys in the fact that instead of the voice of Carmen you hear the voice of lead guitarist Daniel Droste. The song is not really a must have in comparison to the main album but if you can get a limited edition at a price that isn’t too inflated on the regular edition it is worth having. Don’t pay an outrageously higher price for this one song though.

(Originally written for Heavy Metal Haven)

MIDNATTSOL The Metamorphosis Melody

Album · 2011 · Folk Metal
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The Metamorphosis Melody is the third album by Norwegian/German metal band Midnattsol. The album was released in 2011 and sees the band including more folk influences in their music than on their previous album, 2008’s Nordlys, which was mostly a gothic metal album. There’s still plenty of gothic metal to be had in The Metamorphosis Melody of course, and also some symphonic ideas, but all in all I have found that The Metamorphosis Melody can actually be fairly called Nordic folk metal, which is the tag that the band likes to use to describe their music.

Now I’m an established fan of Nordlys already, although it did gradually lose some of its initial appeal as I became more familiar with it. I still consider it a pretty solid album all things considered, but there were several things I knew I’d be looking for when Midnattsol releases a follow-up to it. Now that follow-up is here in the form of The Metamorphosis Melody and I’m pleased to report that what elements I found lacking in Nordlys have been improved on, which results in a much stronger album in all aspects.

The vocals of Carmen Elise Espenæs are one of the biggest improvements on The Metamorphosis Melody. While I enjoyed her voice on prior work there were a few moments where it seemed lacking in power or out of place with the music. A good example of that would be Nordlys first track Open Your Eyes. But with The Metamorphosis Melody Carmen’s vocals fit all the time and because her voice has a general folksy sound to it, the band’s renewed folk influences work all the better within the overall sound, and since I really missed the folk elements on Nordlys, having them appear on The Metamorphosis Melody in abundance is a big plus.

Speaking of those folk influences Midnattsol is one of those bands where they don’t come out in the form of traditional instruments, but by creating folk melodies on guitars or keyboards. There’s a mix of both on The Metamorphosis Melody such as the lead guitar lines in the title track and Kong Valemons Kamp and for keyboards there’s track such as Spellbound. Behind the melody however (no pun intended) the guitar riffs of Daniel Droste and Alex Kautz are more or less a gothic metal affair and at other times in the sound Daniel Fischer’s keyboards take on a more prominent role that gives parts of the album a more symphonic sound, which is heard early on in the intro track Alv, (which is one of the select few intro tracks I actually found myself enjoying) and later really prominently in Motets Makt. Going back to those folk influences for a moment there’s also an acoustic ballad, Goodbye, included in the album, which really brings them out in a completely new way.

The songs of The Metamorphosis Melody are also generally a lot more memorable and better crafted than the band’s earlier work. Tracks such as the title track, Spellbound, A Poet's Prayer, Kong Valemons Kamp & Goodbye all stand up as highlights from the very early listens of the album and as I become more familiar with it I find that there isn’t a bad track on it. While the band’s previous work was good, The Metamorphosis Melody tops it all in every way possible to become their best album to date. From a metal perspective Midnattsol aren’t the most aggressive or heavy band around, but they certainly have the technique and the writing skills to produce a great melodic folk metal album and if you enjoy folk metal then The Metamorphosis Melody is a highly recommended purchase!

As an additional note, like with Nordlys, there’s a limited edition of The Metamorphosis Melody that comes with a bonus track and again like Nordlys the band switches Carmen’s vocals for those of Daniel Droste (who some readers of this review may be more familiar with as the frontman of funeral doom metal band Ahab). The track is A Predator's Prey, and features Droste using his growl as well as cleans. On the Nordlys bonus track, Octobre, he just used cleans, so A Predator's Prey showcases a very different side to Midnattsol, which sadly may remain unexplored on future releases, as Droste parted ways with the band a little while before the release of this album. This is a good track and the limited edition also comes with a DVD which some live material, so it’s definitely worth a fan picking up, though as always, the score given to the album is based on the regular edition.

(Originally written for Heavy Metal Haven)

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