From extreme sports to drafting up a proposal in a political climate, no matter what the task in life, execution is key. In music, execution comes from a different avenue depending upon the genre. Pop music for example relies more on melodies and a strong hook where as solid hip hop requires strong execution of song structure and flow. In metal, the execution is foremost reliant upon the skill of the instrumentalists as the music is driven by them. This entire ideology changes once genres start to blend and cross over as some work better than others. As of late, the most tried and true combination of sounds and styles has been with the djent aspect of metal with solid metalcore. For every failure of this blend, there are successes and success is the category that new Tragic Hero Records signess The Northern fall into with their debut album Solstice.
Putting it bluntly, Solstice isn’t offering anything new or deviating from the path of what to expect. In fact, The Northern play their cards relatively early on in the album in regards to showing what they’re capable of, and continue doing so throughout all ten tracks that make up the album. There’s bouncy, crisp djent-y riffs intermingled with the traditional metalcore sound that creates the underlying instrumental foundation. Layered on top of this are hard hitting raw screams followed up by soaring, melodic choruses — once again following the structure of the vast majority of modern day metalcore. With that being said, this record has a sizable, yet subtle dose of ambiance and atmosphere which is the most important stylistic choice that The Northern have incorporated into their sound as it’s the one that helps differentiate it the most from other acts.
As previously mentioned, The Northern utilize ambient and atmospheric soundscapes quite well with a melodic side which helps brings forth a more encompassing and attractive sound to listeners. They balance this beautifully by letting the soundscapes shine through on their own, or blend them with bruising heaviness instrumentally and vocally. “Nauticus” showcases this with its fast and furious breakdown while the likes of “Polar Dirft” ends with a spattering of electronics and crunchy instrumentation. Showcasing the more atmospheric style is the interlude “Eclipse” which offers a haunting vocal melody behind a budding sound or the beginning and ending of “Matches” with its flurry of synths and gang vocals.
For all the faults Solstice has for living too much in the realm of a stereotypical metalcore record with a djent influence, The Northern show their most prowess by being able to craft their own sound and identity that doesn’t borrow too much from the genre’s standouts. It’s a rather typical record sonically, yet at the same time, it has an output that is very dissimilar to other bands in the genre. That being said, The Northern fit very favorably along with the rest of Tragic Heros’ roster and if the jump from Solstice to their follow-up is anything like some of their label mates, everyone will be in for a treat.