Out of cold, Northern Europe comes Everfrost with their anime/manga-inspired version of symphonic power metal on their second album Winterider, a release that has an accompanying manga comic.
Everfrost from Lapland, Finland have been active as a band since 2015, releasing a full length album, Blue Eyed Emotion, an ep and a live album prior to Winterider. Blue Eyed Emotion introduced the characters who play out the fantasy story in Winterider, so for those really interested, it may make sense to check out the first album as this one is a concept album as well.
The opening track, “Winterider”, starts out innocently enough, just like many other symphonic power metal albums from Europe, so no real surprises. Strong keyboard presence in the beginning and an overly clean production seems to have taken a bit of the teeth out of the instruments. Vocals a seem almost eerily perfectly smooth as are the gang chorus sections. I can’t seem to shake the feeling that this song wasn’t really performed by a live band. The production is so clean that the performances seem to have had all emotion removed. Guitar solos alternate with keyboard solos amidst some great drumming and there are a lot of sound layers going on here that end up taking away from the performance for me.
Interestingly, keyboardist Benji Connelly is credited with writing the music and lyrics, the arrangements, and the production and that may explain the dominance of the keyboards in the overall sound and multiple layers of sound in the songs. Everything with respect to the sound seems to be over-the-top except for some emotion or any sense of grittiness. This seems to be more like pop metal, especially with the emphasis on the keyboards. Songs like “Actraiser” really emphasize this aspect of their overall sound with many of the verse sections simply vocals over a guitarless rhythm section that includes piano. Similar with “Brandy and the Antifreeze” which is later in the album. Piano drives the early section before guitars come in, but even when they do, what could be a heavy riff, ends up with a bright, airy tone that seems like it wants to be heavy but can’t.
Towards the end of the album, the band chooses to cover Kesha’s “Die Young” and after a short computer-aided vocal intro, the band tries to bring metal to the track with a guitar riff but the verse sections would not be out of place in the original version of the song. Yes guitars are there, but they hide behind the keyboards for much of the song.
The album concludes with an epic, fifteen minute track, “A Whisper in a Frozen Tale” that takes everything heard previously on the album and rachets it up a bit. Unfortunately, for me at least, this means keyboards dominate, and again we have the vocals accompanied by only a piano for a bit. From there the song shifts into an 80’s hair metal vibe and perhaps an attempt to channel some “Bohemian Rhapsody”. I will say that the guitars here at times do have a bit more crunch to them, which is great to hear.
I think I may be missing something important by not having heard the original album which introduced the characters for this one and I haven’t read the comic that goes with the album. The whole concept I just can’t relate to. The bright feel to this album even with double bass roaring and blazing guitar solos seems to have moved it into pop music and combined with the overly clean production and silky smooth vocals, it’s hard to think otherwise. Don’t get me wrong though, the performances are strong, I just don’t feel they hit the mark with respect to the “symphonic power metal label”.
Written by John Jackson
2. Juhannus in January
3. Chainlace Angel
5. Cold Night Remedy
6. Above the Treeline (feat. Asim Searah from Wintersun)
7. Brandy and Antifreeze
8. Die Young (Kesha’s cover version)
9. Darkwoods Drain Backwaters
10. A Whisper in a Frozen Tale
Mikael Salo – Lead Vocals
Markus Laito – Lead Guitar, Vocals
Benji Connelly – Keyboards
Jope ‘James’ Salminen – Drums
Allan C Hasanen – Bass
Release Date: Sep. 6th. 2019
Record Label: Rockshots Records, 2019
Video for ‘Winterider’
Lyric video for ‘Actraiser’
Video for ‘Cold Night Remedy’
Video for “Winterider” (album teaser)
Video Making of Winterider