Album review: NORDIC UNION- Second Coming

Release Date 9.11.18

Erik Martensson has maintained a work rate in 2018 that would put the Stalinist-era miner Stakhanov to shame.  His own band Eclipse had a quieter year but on top of his significant participation in the W.E.T. and Ammunition albums, comes a third one, a sophomore Nordic Union collaboration with Pretty Maids singer Ronnie Atkins.

As with its 2016 predecessor, war is a recurring lyrical theme and opener ‘My Fear and My Faith’ has an epic feel, while ‘Because of Us’ is lively and hard-hitting and ‘Walk Me Through the Fire’ had a strong chorus which reminded me of some of Ammunition’s work.

But in a genre often criticised for generic lyrics, ‘It Burns’ contains some topical and well targeted barbs at a well-knownpublic figure ‘you chose a bully as a president, the definition of incompetence….. another media mislead, another foolish tweet, another wrestle with the rocket man’. The arrangement itself is also an interesting one, with some modern rock sounding keyboards and a celtic-themed guitar solo on the outro not unlike Eclipse.

Nordic Union occupy a slightly different field to the Swedish mastermind’s other projects as the rough-edged vocals of the veteran Danish singer allow him greater reign to indulge his open love of the more metallic side of things, shown to best effect on ‘The Final War’ where the heavy riffs are in Judas Priest or Primal Fear territory and ‘Rock’s Still Rolling’ with some tasty slide guitar.

Sometimes all-star collaborations can be a bit disjointed but in this case the two keep tight control over the process, writing all the songs with a solitary outside co-write, and Erik playing all the instruments other than the drums which are supplied by Eclipse band mate Magnus Ulfstedt. The result is a very cohesive album.

Perhaps the most interesting song is the mid-tempo ‘New Life Begins’ which has some of the anthemic, chest-beating widescreen qualities of eighties acts such as U2, The Alarm and the Hooters. Even on some of the heavier numbers such as ‘Breathtaking’ and ‘Die Together’, there are still traces of that influence.

The final two numbers ‘Best Thing I Never Had’ and ‘Outrun You’ are more conventional hard-hitting melodic rockers that would have comfortably sat on Eclipse’s last album. Nevertheless the ‘Nordic Union’ is one made in heaven.

**** 1/4

Review by Andy Nathan

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