While the power metal -loving masses might not know about Everfrost yet, rest assured that we at Musicalypse have been following them quite closely since we first heard of them in 2017. This anime-inspired symphonic power metal band caught our eye with their impressive performances and incredible compositions, so when we heard about that the release of their second album, Winterider, was approaching on September 6th, 2019, we’ve been on the edge of our musical seats in anticipation.
We were invited to a pre-listening of the album on July 3rd in a private residence in Helsinki to hear what was promised to be an entirely new experience on the Everfrost musical frontier. Check out the album trailer here:
We arrived at our destination and as the guests arrived we watched the aforementioned trailer and the currently-released making-of vlogs, which are linked down at the bottom. When everyone had arrived, we dimmed the lights and hoped the wintry music would help us cool down in the blazing summer heat.
Winterider is a 10-track classic power metal album, starting strong and ending with a 15-minute epic. You can hear influences from other great bands like Blind Guardian, Wintersun, Ensiferum, Nightwish, Michael Jackson, and so many more, yet if the band hadn’t pointed them out, we might not have noticed them. The soundscape is so well-developed and original that even with clear influences, the sound is very distinctly their own.
The album opens with the title track, “Winterider,” featuring some wonderful harpsichord and the first riff that had been written for the album. It’s clear that Mikael Salo, known for being in rather many bands, uses a different singing style on this album, which I very much respect as it’s not that common to hear. The wintry soundscape that these guys are already known for is even more evident than before, likely due to the album’s theme. “Juhannus in January” was introduced as a combination of Abba, Blind Guardian, and Ghost – extremely upbeat much like Avantasia, though it still has some pretty heavy riffs.
“Chainlace Angel” was an immediate stand-out for me personally, and Salo pointed out the Michael Jackson-ness in the vocals, while keyboardist/songwriter Benjamin Connelly said it was kind of a Castlevania sound. Not sticking strictly to any particular format though, “Actraiser” had an incredible groove from Allan C. Hasanen on bass, and was described as a song about an otaku/weeaboo, and has some great wails at the end, as well as detailed vocal layering and pentatonic harmonies.
The already-released single, “Cold Night Remedy,” was fully re-recorded for the album and will release its “Everfrost on ice” video later this month. The video was recorded in the winter out by Seurasaari in Helsinki, as well as on a crane and in a sauna, as they were sponsored by Sauna Rekka and Liftek. The album’s ballad, “Above the Treeline,” laments the loss of loved ones and features a great solo by Asim Searah [Wintersun]. There are great details like church bells and twinkling chimes. Connelly said that the melody for this track was written back when he was a mere 18 years old.
The band joked that “Brandy and Antifreeze” is about their drinking habits, referring to how cold they were during the filming of “Cold Night Remedy.” The song features some liveliness reminiscent of Nightwish, as well as a great trade-off between the keyboards and bass.
One of the songs I was personally the most hyped for was the album version of their cover of “Die Young” by Kesha. We first heard it during the A Cold Night Out show at The Circus last year and it was so great that I’ve been waiting for it ever since, and it did not disappoint. The intro was done in music box style as inspired by drummer Jope Salminen‘s music quiz, and the concept itself – doing a pop song cover – was inspired by Alestorm’s cover of “Hangover” by Taio Cruz.
“Darkwoods Drain Backwaters” was another favorite, and Salminen called this song the “drummer breaker,” as there’s a hell of a lot of double-kick. The tempo is 200 and Salo claimed credit for writing the outro.
Finally, we reach the grand finale epic, “A Whisper in a Frozen Tale.” Referred to as “the song that almost destroyed the band” due to fights over writing and mixing it, they also mentioned that the song completely fried Connelly’s PC. They said they won’t be doing this one live any time soon, but who knows what the future holds.
So what can you ask for from a long epic? Gorgeous keyboards and guitars by Connelly and Markus Laito? Check. Gentle vocals and galloping drums? Check. Renaissance synth sounds? Check. Ambient interlude? Check. Shamisen? Heck yeah! I could go on. The main thing is that the song didn’t feel long or drag on. There weren’t parts I wanted to skip through. Even better, without even knowing the story at this point, I could still feel some sort of foreshadowing in the outro.
Now, keep in mind that all of this was simply the first impression, but that impression was overwhelmingly positive. In fact, I found myself largely blown away by the quality of everything – composition, execution, mixing… all of it was extremely ambitious and very well done. The band was proud but exhausted and planning to take it a little easier with whatever comes next. As Connelly put it, this was the right time to do such an ambitious project, as they’re full of ideas and youthful energy. And music this huge, especially when it focuses so strongly on keyboards and guitar, needs to have a powerful and interesting rhythm section, which Hasanen and Salminen provide.
Already, despite the band only having two albums, there is a very distinct sound in their music that is clearly “Everfrost,” and I can’t wait to get my hands on the booklet and lyrics so I can delve into the Everfrost world and its characters once more.
And here are those aforementioned making-of trailers: