Norther Mirror of Madness

Norther’s take on metal is somewhat derivative, a new spin on the offerings of several older bands — In Flames, Immortal, Soilwork, country-mates Children of Bodom. But it’s really hard not to get swept up in the avalanche of hair-flailing attitude and catchy razor-sharp melody that combine to produce something refreshing, if not entirely fresh. The consistency of Norther’s onslaught on Mirror of Madness smudges distinctions between individual tracks until what’s left is a 43-minute serving of eardrum grating melodic metal cacophony. The kicker is that Norther dig their hooks in within moments of the opening chords, and throughout that fraction of an hour the hooks stay firmly in place. Bonus for the Century Media-served North American market: CD-ROM video of the title track. (Spinefarm)