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Album Reviews : Northward – Northward

By on October 14, 2018

Northward is a project that has been in the works for some time. With seeds planted during the 2007 ProgPower Festival in the USA, the collaboration between Jorn Viggo Lofstad (Pagan’s Mind) and Floor Jansen (After Forever, Nightwish) mainly took place in a series of sessions in 2008. Though it’s taken some time to be released, album Northward is finally on the world stage, delivering a solid, stripped-back set of hard rock songs.

Opening track ‘While Love Died’ sets the tone for the album and lets you know what to expect. Hard rock riffs with a fantastic vocal performance, catchy and melodic chorus capped off by a nice solo. Production across the album is generally well done, being poppy and accessible without losing the harder edge to most songs. ‘Get what you give’ follows suit with a nice groove to the main riff, demonstrating the rather impressive range that Floor Jansen has at her disposal. Her vocal performances are the true highlight of this album, proving that she can deliver much more than the soaring mezzo-soprano expected of a singer famed for her work in symphonic metal bands.

While many songs on the album are fairly straightforward hard rock (‘Storm in a glass’ and ‘Let me out’ for example), there’s also plenty of variety. The acoustic bridge of ‘Get what you give’ is the first hint of this (combined with some very tasty guitar playing from Jorn) but ballads like ‘Paragon’ and more progressive songs like the closer ‘Northward’ break up the ‘pure’ hard rock vibe with some variety. Occasionally the variety and experimentation doesn’t quite work, however; ‘Big Boy’ is another groovy song that has something of an industrial/electronic feel to it that nearly works, but ends up foregrounding the vocals and guitar over a fairly pedestrian backing band – perhaps an area for improvement on future releases. Likewise, ‘Timebomb’ has a somewhat incongruous opening with big pinch harmonics falling away to a very understated acoustic and piano-backed verse, a blip on an otherwise well-written and emotional song whose chorus is one of the highlights of the album.

‘Bridle Passion’ is another of the true highlights of the album. A very relaxed song for the most part that shows off an amazing vocal performance. Bare songs like this are difficult for many singers, with no room to hide in the instrumentation, yet Floor handles this with aplomb. ‘I Need’ brings a slow-burn intro leading into a fairly high-octane song with a nice drum solo before the chorus reprise. ‘Northward’ closes out the album well as a mellow song with some nice lead guitar moments throughout.

Ultimately, Northward was worth the wait. While perhaps not as ‘heavy metal’ as the main bands of the Jorn and Floor, it’s nonetheless a collection of well-written and catchy songs. For fans of good, guitar-driven music, huge and melodic choruses, and stellar vocal performances, it’s very much worth a spin.

Band: Northward
Album: Northward
Year: 2018
Genre: Hard Rock
Label: Nuclear Blast Records
Origin: Norway / Netherlands


Ben is a metalhead originally from Sydney, who has now moved to Hobart to pursue a PhD in Australian extreme metal. When not studying, writing about or playing metal, he can be found playing video games, browsing Reddit, knitting, fending off his cat or helping out at his local church.