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Nordic Union - "Nordic Union" (CD)

Nordic Union - "Nordic Union" CD cover image

"Nordic Union" track listing:

1. The War Has Begun
2. Hypocrisy
3. Wide Awake
4. Every Heartbeart
5. When Death Is Calling (song streaming here)
6. 21 Guns
7. Falling
8. The Other Side
9. Point Of No Return
10. True Love Awaits You
11. Go

Reviewed by on January 26, 2016

"When it comes to musicians, you couldn’t make enough coats to hang on the amount of hooks created by Eclipse guitarist Erik Martensson."

When it comes to writing, a song is only as great as the hook that draws you in. When it comes to great albums, you need a lot of hooks. When it comes to musicians, you couldn’t make enough coats to hang on the amount of hooks created by Eclipse guitarist Erik Martensson. When you match the Swede with the Danish vocal god Ronnie Atkins (Pretty Maids) and Seventh Sign drummer Magnus Ulfstedt…this “Nordic Union” is bound to be a hit. In fact, in terms of catchiness, this more than merely combines the forces of the two elite acts in Scandinavian hard rock, it doubles it. It may be way too early to truly predict, but this has all the makings of the hard rock release of 2016.

I know Nordic Union wouldn’t strike you as the typical “super group,” the latest trend. Coincidentally, Frontiers Music srl has been the flashpoint for the majority of this latest craze in the music business – taking the greats and marrying them together. That’s pretty much how Nordic Union was created, as if Sarafino Perugino was the Italian Coachella. The only difference here is that where many super groups fail due to disjointed/drab songwriting with hopes pinned on a the marketability of the guest stars, Nordic Union sounds like a much more natural band. I’m hoping that this isn’t a one off and praying for albums for years to come.

There are only so many times you can refer to an album as “catchy” without sounding repetitive, but there isn’t a word on the planet that more perfectly describes the listening experience here. You definitely won’t find a music revolution in Nordic Union – it is precisely what it is supposed to be – a marriage of two amazing hard rock musicians and songwriters, well known to the hard rock community for down to earth, no frills music with hooks and melody as the core.

It comes as no shock that the material is the embodiment of each of the member’s own main bands – with songs like “The War Has Begun,” “Hypocrisy,” “21 Guns” and “Point of No Return” sounding right in line with the last three Pretty Maids albums and “Every Heartbeat,” “The Other Side,” “Falling” and “Go” leaning towards Eclipse. The union is perfect as the band's complement each other so well. I can see a grand tour between the two that includes a Nordic Union set in the future. I sure hope it happens.

For Ronnie Atkins, his performance always captivates me – with that amazing ability to sound crystal clear but at the same time he is able to run it thorough the meat grinder to give the grit it needs to make this appealing to both hard rock and traditional metal fans. Its hysterical how many times I have to explain myself when telling a hardened “warrior metalhead” that Pretty Maids is not only a metal band, but one of the best you will ever hear. I have the same issue with The Poodles. I don’t think Atkins cares worth a lick, but it is humorous in the fan circles.

The world of modern hard rock has truly shrugged off the old glam images of the past (save for joke artists like Steel Panther) and become what it was meant to be all along – a tribute to great songwriting. This may have been constructed largely by a label president, but Nordic Union isn’t just a mash up to sell records on the backs of the member’s known acts. This is a truly remarkable hard rock album where complimenting musicians were carefully selected in order to form a more perfect Nordic Union.

Highs: The perfect union of Pretty Maids and Eclipse. Too many hooks to mention.

Lows: Nothing earth shattering - so if no frills hard rock isn't your thing - steer clear.

Bottom line: Two musicians come together to form a more perfect Nordic Union.

Rated 4 out of 5 skulls
4 out of 5 skulls

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)