Written by Alex Stojanovic
My Fear & My Faith
Because Of Us
Walk Me Through The Fire
New Life Begins
The Final War
Rock's Still Rolling
The Best Thing I Never Had
Release: November 9, 2018
Label: Frontiers Records
Ronnie Atkins - Lead vocals / Erik Martensson - Guitars, bass, keyboards & backing vocals / Magnus Ulfstedt - Drums
When you combine the two hook masters, along with Martensson's Eclipse bandmate Magnus Ulfsted on drums, you know you're in for some tasty melodic hard rock. As a matter of fact, if you see anything that has either Atkins or Martensson involved, you know it's going to be great. After the release of the first album, many people were wondering whether Nordic Union would be a one-off project, or if there would be more music coming. I certainly hoped that there was more to come because everything about that album screamed "quality". Sure enough, here they are with a sophomore album, aptly titled Second Coming.
With Atkins' versatile voice and Martensson's heavy and melodic riffs, Nordic Union, and each of their respective bands, have the ability to appeal to the hard rock and traditional metal fans, as well as the person who has never bought a hard rock or metal record in his life. Just about the entire album oozes with memorability, and hooks fly in from all directions. Some of the biggest moments as far as hooks go include "It Burns", "Walk Me Through The Fire" and possibly the album's heaviest cut "The Final War". Even the heaviest hitters on the album still contain an abundance of melody.
Elements of both Eclipse and Pretty Maids are present in the songs, and that shouldn't be a surprise. As a result, tracks like "The Best Thing I Never Had", "Because Of Us" and "Rock's Still Rolling" carry huge Eclipse vibes, whereas "My Fear & My Faith", "The Final War" and "Outrun You" seem like they would fit right in on any of Pretty Maids' recent albums. Not only are the riffs, guitar and vocal melodies captivating, but they're also really soulful. The songs bring the feel-good, hard rock vibes of Dokken, Journey, 80s Bon Jovi, Van Halen, Def Leppard, Skid Row, and even Bryan Adams.
The only issue I seem to have with Nordic Union has nothing to do with the music, but the fact that it was put together by a label president, which is usually frowned upon. It would've been much better if the project was put together by the musicians themselves. However, at least the songs were written purely by the band members and there wasn't any ghostwriting going on, like it should be. The album consists of primarily ballads and mid-tempo rockers, so if you're expecting some faster moments with a speed metal influence, you unfortunately aren't going to find it on here.
When it comes to my hard rock/metal musical tastes, I have a wide range. I love everything from the simple, feel-good, accessible sounding hard rock and traditional metal, to the heavier, brutal and more complex stuff like thrash and death metal. If I'm craving something simple and melodic, but still heavy and crunchy, there's a lot of bands that satisfy that craving for me, and I'm glad I can add Nordic Union to that list with the two albums they've released so far. If you're a fan of either Pretty Maids or Eclipse, and if you loved the first Nordic Union album, Second Coming is another batch of well-written, memorable songs guaranteed of pleasing traditional metal and hard rock fans, as well as the listeners just taking their first dip of the toes in these waters. Plus, I also have to say that if you hear a song from a new release for the first time, and you see that it's coming out on Frontiers Records, the chances of it being a quality release are very high. Pick this album up when released.
Highs: Memorability is written all over the album.
Lows: Nothing original. Could've used a slightly faster, more up-tempo song.
Final Rating: 8/10
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