Bathory - _Nordland I_
(Black Mark, 2002)
by: Quentin Kalis (
Most CoC readers won't have any difficulty in naming at least one of Bathory's first six releases. But I imagine considerably fewer will be able to name later Bathory albums -- mainly because they simply do not compare in terms of both quality and innovation to seminal albums like _Bathory_ or _Hammerheart_. Sadly, this new album is not an improvement over more recent Bathory material. _Nordland I_ represents a return to his pioneering epic / Viking metal sound. This is a more reflective album, more so than his much-vaunted Viking trilogy, perhaps representing an older, more mature Quorthon. But it is also a considerably more placid and, let's face it, more boring album. If _Blood Fire Death_ was the soundtrack to an impending war, then if they existed, this would be the soundtrack for a retired, middle-aged Viking warrior. Evaluated without regard to previous Bathory releases this is acceptable, if incredibly average Viking metal. But in comparison to previous Bathory albums, this is an extremely poor release, failing to move me like _Hammerheart_ or _Blood Fire Death_. Elements and sound effects that were utilised to great effectiveness in earlier albums now seem trite and clichéd; no doubt the advent of Viking metal fuelled by Bathory's past releases have contributed to this sense of déjà vu. This is intended as the first part of a staggered double CD set; perhaps the second half will be better. With newer bands such as the underrated Moonsorrow and even Graveland releasing some good, even excellent albums, there is no need for sub-average truly epic Viking metal albums to flood the market, no matter what the past credentials of the artist may be.
(article published 5/29/2003)
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