Bathory - _Nordland II_
(Black Mark Records, 2003)
by: Quentin Kalis (
_Nordland II_ is the follow-up to _Nordland I_ and forms the second part of a staggered double CD release. An ambitious project, which can only be pulled off by those with the requisite skill and sufficient vision. Sadly, neither quality is exhibited. Bathory was once a pioneer of extreme metal; albums such as _The Return..._ and _Hammerheart_ are massively influential classics. But now, after some two decades in the business, the extremity and innovative spirit that was the driving force behind the aforementioned classics has deserted Quorthon. Although _Nordland II_ is hardly the worst Viking metal album ever released, it must surely rank as one of the most soulless; Bathory is seemingly now content to simply go through the motions in creating music. The songs feature many of the trademarks and features of this subgenre -- indeed many were pioneered by Quorthon -- yet on _Nordland II_ they sound tired and cliché-ridden. This is not such an average that it inspires the desire to hear it again nor is it so bad that the listener is driven to switch the CD player; the average listener will lose interest and it will simply fade into the background. A further indicator of how the mighty have fallen is provided by the intro, "Fanfare", which paradoxically sounds like a rip-off of a Graveland intro -- even though Bathory could probably sue Graveland for practically plagiarising _Hammerheart_ on their later albums! This album cannot be awarded more then a five -- a mediocre rating for a truly mediocre album. Bathory is fast becoming another Black Sabbath: after releasing a slew of seminal, original releases which are destined to remain classics, both descended into repetitious mediocrity and self-parody, marching on long after when they should have given up.
(article published 21/9/2003)
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