NORTHWARD, a side project by Floor Jansen (NIGHTWISH, REVAMP, EVER AFTER) and Jorn Viggo Lofstad (PAGAN’S MIND, BEAUTIFUL SIN, JORN) who made a connection in 2007 at ProgPower USA, put together an album’s worth of songs but it took some time to publish.The self titled album Northward (October 19, Nuclear Blast Records) pulled in Morty Black (TNT) on skins, Jango Nilsen and Stian Kristoffersen (PAGAN’S MIND), Irene Jansen (Floor’s sister) for guest vocals and Ronny Tegner’s (PAGAN’S MIND) keyboard, and made the album complete.
The first notable public introduction to the project was quite literally a video of the trial release song “While Love Died”. The video features Floor and Jorn jamming to this heavy rock tune. It’s a bit of a teaser to the incredible vocals of Jansen and in your face guitar work displayed by Lofstad and some things to come. The video debuted on August 24 and one month later had over 214,000 views. The obvious fan love for these two is monumental.
Next in line is “Get What You Give”. As noted from the first track, this lyric video displays not only a very personal story, but shows how powerful Jansen’s vocals are. It also is very creative in that Jorn’s talent on an axe can be metal or finesse as hell. To me the message is about karma and how it comes around to “get what you give”. Third in line is “Storm in a Glass”. Slowing down the pace a bit, this tasty little number speaks to me about the internal conflict that comes to us at times. I really liked this tune because the bass and drum tracks stand out and are very well done. Floor’s vocals are clean and immaculate with awesome lyrics. A superb tune.
On “Drifting Islands” Floor shares the vocals with her sister Irene, who has an equally impressive set of pipes. This is a song about the difficulty we sometimes have of dealing with people. It is difficult to sometimes know how to approach and treat other people and as a result both can get caught in drifting around each other and staying isolated. “Paragon” starts with a nice acoustic guitar and things slow way down, then tastefully transcends into SATRIANI-like mysticism from Lofstad, and later polishes our senses to a smooth end. It’s a melodical journey of spiritual depth, propagating between fantasy and reality. Floor’s vocal shine on this effort. She is so well known in the \m/etal community for heavy vocals, but this one will give you a glimpse of how beautiful this lady can sing.
Blasting you with an instant face lift is “Let Me Out”. This track is just a good old rock n’ roll song. Do me a favor and crank it to 11 before it comes on. There is usually a tune that makes me want to floor the gas pedal. Well here ya go! Big named celebrities have hot models on their arms, but who’s playing who? Maybe “Big Boy” will help you figure that out. A restless heart is exposed in “Timebomb” and slow, acoustic guitar accompanied with Floor’s beautiful vocals are presented in “Bridal Passion”.
“I Need” is quite a transition from the previous effort. The whole band shines on this number in that it is a hard driving rock and roll tune; great guitar licks, skins and bass, and everyone kicks ass. It’s one of my favorites. “Northward” ends the album as a relaxed seven minute tune with nice guitar effects. The members of NORTHWARD are undoubtedly very talented and polished. Every song is exceptional. If I have any criticism of the record, it is a bit too long and should have been about eight or nine songs. I became a bit bored with the length and had a difficult time focusing after about eight songs. Perhaps a few should have been saved for album #2, because I expect there will be a second. I think the fans will love it though. Salude’
STANDOUT TRACKS: “While Love Died”, “Storm in a Glass”, “Drifting Islands”, “Paragon”, “I Need”
RATING: 8.9 /10
-MARK “\M/ETAL \M/ESSIAH” EHRLICH