Released: 2003, Black Mark
In another set of reviews I did for July 2003 I prefaced some glam rock reviews with the comments with the question, “Who wants to hear black Metal at your summer picnic or BBQ?” Well, we here at Metal-rules don’t discriminate and if you are one of those denizens of the dark who hates all things good, light and holy then here is a set of four reviews of four veteran BM bands for your evil pleasure, namely Bathory, Darkthrone, Enslaved and Marduk. Anyone of these will be sure to kill the mood of your neighbours noisy BBQ!
I had a hard time writing this review in a sense. Bathory’s Nordland II is virtually identical to part I. I’m serious. A lot of cynics and critics say things sound the same but in this instance the Nordland set are virtually identical and are supposed to be. So how was I going to articulate in a moderately intelligent fashion a CD so similar to one I had already commented on? And then it hit me. Cut and paste! Ha! ha! If this review seems familiar it’s because I’m basically reproducing my Nordland I review! Deal with it.
Quorthon is a very clever fellow. He claims he will always do what he wants with his creation and yet always manages to deliver what the fans want. Bathory is also in a fairly unique position of having three distinct sounds and styles. Each sound or era has it’s set of fans and inevitably whatever he does, he will alienate a certain segment of fans and please the others.
I believe Nordland II to be one of his most accomplished works because he tries to capture many elements of the Bathory sound (epic, viking, black, death etc) and brings them together in this wonderful collection of songs. I have a soft spot for 80’s era Bathory (first seven recordings) and this melding of styles appeals to me immensely.
Nordland is a two-disc set, and Part I came out in winter/fall of 2002. Still with Black Mark and working with the enigmatic Boss as producer, Nordland is Bathory’s 12th studio album and the commitment to quality is still there. The packaging is simple and elegant with pictures of nature scenes and lyrics and the cover art is by Kristen Wahlin. What is interesting to note is the cover art is exactly the same as Nordland I, except it has been reversed. It is a mirror image in reverse. Hold them next to each other and you will see what I mean. The packaging is very similar to part I, same font, very similar lyrical stance, pictures of fjords and so on. I love the continuity of the two CD’s, it gives it a real feeling of solidarity and in fact from now on I will probably listen to both of them back to back. They both start and finish with instrumentals as well.
The production is…well…Bathory! I have always loved the big, booming, echoey drum sound and the buzzing tone of the guitars. In a way Bathory reminds me of Running Wild namely the rhythm guitars often acting as the lead instrument with very little shred-type soloing. Although I have no proof I’m guessing it was the same session used to record all the tracks on both CD’s.
The album has the perfect combination of his heavier work with his epic, viking style. There are many sound effects adding layer upon layer of atmosphere to these already atmospheric tunes. The album is opened and closed by two instrumentals full of atmosphere and feeling.
Lyrically Nordland II delivers, with songs about nature, the sea, the woods, the sky, vikings, pagan rites, swords and death and the music matches the mood perfectly. This is rapidly becoming my favorite pair Bathory albums and I have no doubt it will stand as one of the highlights in his long and illustrious career.