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Northern Light Orchestra - "Live Performance Sampler" (DVD)

Northern Light Orchestra - "Live Performance Sampler" DVD cover image

"Live Performance Sampler" track listing:

1. Celebrate Christmas
2. Joy To The World
3. Bye Bye Bethlehem

Reviewed by on December 24, 2009

"Northern Light Orchestra’s mix of poppy, churchy, Michael W. Smith sounds with a couple brief moments of almost DrangonForce sounding guitars just doesn’t work. "

Christmas music is one of those things that’s very hard to review. Everyone has their own opinion of what makes good Christmas music, and it can range anywhere from very traditional sounds to contemporary tunes that don’t even reference the holiday. And even though Northern Light Orchestra seems to be trying to appeal to several different tastes with their Christmas DVD, the end result of eclectic blend of sounds more likely turns off more people than it turns on.

This trio is comprised of two men and one female on vocals, and dual guitars that make up the only bright spot on this release. Even though I tend to like a mix of traditional and contemporary, Northern Light Orchestra’s mix of poppy, churchy, Michael W. Smith sounds with a couple brief moments of almost DrangonForce sounding guitars just doesn’t work.

The opening track, "Celebrate Christmas," isn’t a bad tune really, if you don’t mind the poppy Christian sound, but to say that Flyleaf sounds hardcore in comparison is putting it mildly.

Then they move to the traditional hymn "Joy to the World." The intro is promising, with a nice piano, but then they bump up the tempo a bit, and by the time they reach the speed-ish dual guitar breakdown, it really no longer resembles this standard Christmas song. Still, the guitar work is nice, if you ignore the Latin flavored drums in the background.

The final track, "Bye Bye Bethlehem," is one of those I can only imagine going over big in a very small country church. Granted, there is some nice southern rock guitar work, but it gets a little over the top, and the fiddles just make it plain hokey.

Even if they were trying to appeal to a contemporary crowd, the traditionalist in me says they’d have been better off ending the DVD with a standard like "Silent Night." Then again, with the way they spoiled "Joy to the World," perhaps it’s better that they closed with a song I’m not particularly attached to.

Highs: Dual speed-ish guitars are the one highlight here.

Lows: Most of the release sounds too much like amateur church group performers.

Bottom line: This Christmas DVD is sure to end up being one of those well-intentioned gifts that gets regifted next year.

Rated 1.5 out of 5 skulls
1.5 out of 5 skulls


Key
Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)