Review: Everfrost – Winterider

Everfrost is a symphonic power metal band from Lapland, Finland. The band was formed in 2015 and nowadays consists of a quintet of musicians, in no particular order: Mikael Salo as lead vocalist, Markus Laito on lead guitar and as vocalist, Benji Connelly on keys, Jope ‘James’ Salminen on drums and Allan C. Hasanen on bass. They have been rather busy in the four years of their existence, unleashing a variety of releases onto the world. Their debut was a full-length called Blue Eyed Emotion in 2015, after which an EP, a single and a live album were released. Now the guys are ready to let the world get acquainted with their latest work, which comes in the form of another full-length they have baptized Winterider. According to the guys they drew their inspiration from an original fictional universe and judging by the cover Manga plays an important role as well, which at times is even audible in their music, although I don’t know if that was intentional. Want to know what I mean? Give album closer A Whisper in a Frozen Tale a spin and you’ll know what I am talking about here.

But no need to jump to the end just yet, back to the start of Winterider. The opener which also serves as title song sets the tone with its unmistakable and thus rather predictable power metal structure. It’s most certainly not a bad song, but in my opinion it misses that little something extra to allow me to call it great. The same can be said from the next three songs, Juhannus (midsummer) in January, Chainlace Angel and Actraiser. They too are actually pretty good songs, but nothing makes them really stand out. And then things seem to change, as far as I’m concerned the poison is in the tail here, as with the intro of Cold Night Remedy the atmosphere turns a bit more sinister, making things less tame and giving this song a bit more bite and darkness. Of course it still is power metal by the book, but the extra bite is definitely an addition and, to me personally, an improvement of my listening experience.

This dark edge remains for the majority of the remainder of Winterider, though not always as present as in this song. Brandy and Antifreeze (interesting title and concept I might add…) and the inevitable ballad, this time called Above the Treeline, do have some of that darker vibe as well, both are great songs with plenty to enjoy even after a couple of spins. And let’s not forget to mention Darkwoods Drain Backwaters, which has Dragonforce-like speed and power in it, making this song distinctly stand out from the rest of the songs on Winterider. All in all a pretty powerful and strong second half of this release. There is one exception though, and that is the cover of Ke$ha’s Die Young. You might think this doesn’t sound like nor seem an obvious choice, and you are definitely right, but I won’t go as far as saying it sticks out like a sore thumb, because that would be quite exaggerated. It’s a rather well-executed cover and if anything it’s way better to digest than the original, but it does not have the extra bite I got used to later in this album.

So, Everfrost’s power metal ticks all the boxes, which could very well be a godsend for all power metal fans, but which at the same time could prove to be their weakness when it comes to growing into an overall metal force to be reckoned with. I think we can all agree some aspects of power metal are a bit of an acquired taste, especially the specific type of vocals and the rather wild, seemingly random use of overpowering keyboard parts. In all honesty though, Mikael’s vocals are in general far from extreme, making them more accessible than the high-pitched vocals that are common in this genre and the amount of overly dominating keyboard riffs is limited. On top of that, regardless your attitude toward the genre, musically there’s not much to put at fault here. Then finally add to this that a mildly cheesy, somewhat dutiful sounding start is followed by a strong second half of the album and it’s safe to say this album actually turns out to be quite enjoyable. If they manage to keep this up and don’t resort to the power-as-power-should-be metal, they could end up finding themselves high in the ranks of metal acts. So fans of the genre will probably be over the moon with this, to people who do not consider power metal their cup of tea this could still be a pleasant ride and thus worth their time.

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