Originally written by Ryan Plunkett
Once a band very relevant to the underground scene, Bathory had fallen on the back burner nearly a decade ago. They have influenced countless black metal bands with their early work in the early to mid 80’s, and countless Viking metal bands with the albums released in the late 80’s and early 90’s. And here in 2003, Bathory returns with the second part of the Nordland series.
These two discs pick up on the Viking metal roots of the band, epic and Nordic in nature. Most of the music here is mid-paced and epic. The guitars are laid back and flowing at times, and heavy during others. There are even some decent leads, too. The album definitely has those melodic and classical undertones that Bathory has been known to incorporate. The drums contain many hard crashes on the snare, accompanied by slower-paced double kicks on the bass drum, along with some splashy cymbal work, and the keyboards are never too overpowering and add some ambience to the album.
The thing that really gets me with this release is that Quorthon has dropped all the harsh vokills, using instead more of a hard rock approach containing singing with a bit of a rugged sound to it.
Overall the disc isn’t too bad. The production is some of the best, if not the best, you will come across with Bathory releases (most of their stuff is really, really raw). The songs are for the most part generally interesting, except for the track “Death and Resurrection of a Northern Son,” which has vokills that just downright annoy me. The way they’re sung during the fast part of the song, mainly in the beginning, just plain annoys me. When they hit the slower section of the song they’re fine, though. I guess that could be my only real complaint other than this release is just plain average. Nothing really exciting at all. If you want the best of Bathory, check out Hammerheart or Blood Fire Death. Then listen to this one before you commit to buy.