Northlander – “Forces of Light”


Chris Ratzlaff, vocalist and guitarist of Northlander, inspired my February listening journey. You see, I’d had only my own rough idea of what metalcore and post-harcore was about and to be honest, equated it with My Chemical Romance’s emo stylings, mistakenly. I’d also recently taken Bring Me The Horizon’s crib notes anthology “2004-2013” for a spin, and if you’ve heard “Amo” (2019), marvelled at their brutal musical beginnings before turning pop. The difference between Fallstar and Northlander is like this in a way. Northlander are Chris, Bryan and Cody from Fallstar but in a different guise.

In an interview around the time of Fallstar’s 2013 album “Backdraft”, Chris listed bands that influenced how he wrote music, as well as his vocal style. He mentioned bands like August Burns Red, Beloved, Senses Fail, Taking Back Sunday and The Used, and listening to “Backdraft” I could hear how these influences may have shaped Fallstar’s sound. With less of a hardcore bent than some of the others, and perhaps not as stylistically experimental as The Used are, Fallstar has a heaviness that puts them outside what might be conventionally considered “worship music”. I also get that many churches questioned whether heavy metal music could glorify God, and that many bands like Fallstar were given a cool reception. Christian heavy metal bands continue to fight ridicule from secular bands, but like Fallstar gospel joy continues to shine through in their performances. It is in this time that members of Fallstar composed songs for a future project now known as Northlander.

Even though Northlander’s sound is very different from Fallstar, “Forces of Light” exudes confidence. It’s like the musicians knew that even if they made a radical break with the past, the new songs would hold their own. Two tracks that stood out are “Cliffs” and “Onyx Dust”. These songs relate personal experiences in a way that leave you feeling like they may have been your own. Songs that surprise are the flippant “Cult Leader” and the serious “Saint Sorrow” and there’s something about “Little Bell” that just sticks with you long after the album’s done playing. “Forces of Light” conjures a somber mood that opens you to reflection, and is heightened by the songs that burn with the intensity of lived experience.

“Forces of Light” scores 7/10.

Written by Karakul

Track list:

  1. Heavy Fruit
  2. Wild & Sweet
  3. Oculus
  4. Cliffs
  5. I Come Alive
  6. Rolling Thunder
  7. Praying Drunk
  8. Onyx Dust
  9. Air
  10. Cult Leader
  11. Saint Sorrow
  12. Solaris
  13. Little Bell
  14. The Sun Came Dancing on the Rain

Band members:
Chris Ratzlaff – guitars, vocals
Bryan Ratzlaff – guitars, vocals
Cody Carrier – drums

Release Date: Dec. 5th. 2019

Record label: Facedown Records

Studio albums/EPs
Forces of Light (full-length)


Video for ‘Heavy Fruit’

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Posts