Echoterra is an relatively new American operatic symphonic metal band, containing figures of many established acts including ex-members of Avian, Into Eternity, Pyramaze and Visions of Atlantis. After a decent yet largely unremarkable debut, the band underwent some lineup changes and returned with a new, far more capable vocalist and a clearly renewed sense of vigor. Land of the Midnight Sun is a solid slice of symphonic heavy metal, and while lacking in originality, fans of Nightwish, Epica, and the like should eat this up.

“After the Rain” jump-starts the proceedings with keyboardist/song writer Jonah Weingarten’s typically epic melodies and guitarist Yan Leviathan’s seasoned guitar work. This track has “single” written all over it, with a memorable chorus provided by the majestic Missy Ferlaak (ex-Visions of Atlantis), a singer with limitless potential. I can’t wait to her how her voice develops with Echoterra. “The Best Is Yet to Come” is reminiscent of early Oceanborn era Nightwish, without being a parody. This is of course a compliment of the highest order. The composition is tight and grand, with lots of pleasing melodic flourishes. “Midnight Sun” takes things up a few notches, with fast, crunching guitars and powerful double bass drums creating a punchy, heavy song. There are some really beautiful vocal rhythms from Ferlaak as well.

“Ghost Within My Heart” is a fist-pumping anthem that continuously gets the heart racing. Lot’s of soaring, epic lead guitar melodies and a driving groove that is broken towards the end with a majestic keyboard segment, only to return in good form to conclude with potent guitars. This is my favorite song on display. “All the Lies” is another scorcher, riddled with countless hooks and yet another unforgettable performance from songstress Ferlaak. “Unleash the Flood” is probably the least interesting song on the album for with the exception of a few interesting sounding pre-chorus riffs, lacks any truly distinctive characteristics. “A Different Story” has some fun, 80’s inspired synth work and head bobbing percussion that offers a nice reprieve from the pummeling double bass beats.

“Welcome My Friend of Misery” begins with a long stretch of otherworldly keyboard melodies, which really stand out for the duration of the song. It gives a sort of late night, sleepy eyed fairy tale vibe, and the sumptuous vocal melodies compliment this atmosphere wondrously. “Memories of Another Time” is another keyboard-driven affair, with some simple yet distinctly affecting melodies that are the primary focus, with the guitars providing a crucial yet largely supportive role. “From the Gutter to the Throne” is another heavy track, with a nice, full throttle keyboard solo and pummeling, upbeat rhythms and varied guitars mixing up the formula a bit. I would probably have ended the album on this note.

The final track “Genes of Isis,” while solid, feels extremely out of place for the first and last minute, with an absolutely dumbfounding keyboard intro and outro I still have yet to wrap my head around. However, once I got used to them, I was treated with a triumphant, highly energetic conclusion, with, for fear of sounding redundant, yet another stellar performance from Missy. I really hope these guys know just how much they scored by recruiting this absolute gem of a vocalist. Production wise, the album is a bit rough around the edges, and inconsistent. Some songs sound pristine with each instrument audible, and others sound like there is a tug of war going on between the guitars and keyboards. I would also have dropped the vocals down just a hair overall, and definitely added clarity to the bass guitar. That said, it gets the job done. Echoterra are a band that is still stretching their legs, yet with a little work, the quality of the song writing and astoundingly beautiful voice of Missy Ferlaak, will have them standing tall amongst their peers in no time.