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On disc: Bathory

- Nordland I & II - Claudia Ehrhardt - 8 stars

Norsland Pt. 1 Norsland Pt. 2

Nordland I & II
(Black Mark - 2002/2003)

Bathory... Their history been more lows then highs. Some albums been killers, others... Let's not talk about these. Again viking metal instead of black metal. And like in the past albums like Hammerheart, Twilight Of The Gods and Blood On Ice left the black metal behind. Actually my favorite Bathory albums, so this should be of my taste.... With Nordland I they are back to the viking metal with all the clichés, but also with all the power this stories have to drag you in. Opening with the majestic instrumental Prelude the story really starts with Nordland. A soundtrack like this revives the time of the vikings - like Hammerheart years ago... The fearless viking warriors who sailed the oceans, respected the nature and their Gods. Quorthon's voice is crowning the epic metal. Metal hymns which creates soundscapes with natural sounds like birds twitter... Or the sound of clashing swords... A horse galloping... Whatever the story needs, Quorthon added it. To give just one example, Quorthon is presenting a nordic folk-based ballad - just acoustic guitars and vocals - with Ring Of Gold, coz it suits the story. The hypnotic dark voice of Quarthon is putting you under a spell and the sluggish guitars drag you along. Sure, Quorthon will never be a high class singer and sometimes he tries stuff he actually can't sing, but there is something in his voice which fits to the Bathory sound perfectly. It would be just wrong to name single tracks, coz this is a conceptual album which should be heard from the first note to the very end. Well, Nordland I is a bit better then the follow up. Both albums are mainly epic, atmospheric metal, but here and there he offers a bit power metal or nordic folk metal.
When Quorthon entered the studio he had almost 2 hrs. of music and so they decided to do 2 albums, why they haven't done a double CD, I don't know... Perhaps it's just about money... Perhaps Quorthon just didn't want to wait with the release until both parts are finished. Anyway, the production lacks power. The sound is clear, but not powerful enough... Partly sounds a little like a cheap shot. But the cover artwork is far from being a cheap shot! Again Kristian Wåhlin was responsible for the artwork and he already did the artwork for the albums like Blood On Ice. And so some great piece of artwork is covering this story.

8 stars

Claudia Ehrhardt


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