Saturday, 5 November 2011

#100 Bathory - Nordland

When I started writing reviews, I didn't really think about how long the adventure would last. Turns out, the answer was "quite a while". I'm quite pleased with how things are going, and even moreso by how much deeper I'm finding myself able to look at the music I find, compared to the initial, barely paragraph long reviews that I started the ball-rolling with. This, my one-hundredth review, felt like it should perhaps be something a little special, and that is when my inner, irresistible urge to at some point review Nordland came into play.

As I mentioned in my previous reviews of Bathory, I'm a confessed major fan of the band, and since I discovered them, I've still not found anything quite as incredible. Nordland is the first of two (planned to be four) albums in the Nordland series, cut short only by the death of Quorthon. A bit slower and warmer than it's follow up, Nordland II, but in my view, it epitomises the glorious and inspiring viking-metal style. As the evocative "Prelude" exploded into the blood-raising intro to "Nordland", the first time I listened to the album, I knew I was onto something which would change my taste in metal utterly. Every song on the album seems in some way inspiring, the rough, unpolished production adds something to the synth and crunchy guiar which a more polished album would not possess; It completely banishes and sterility that the album might have. I can safely say that I've never encountered an album which rushes quite so powerfully through my soul, and I'm not saying that because I'm merely a fanboy - I say it while attempting impartiality. Compared to almost all of the albums I've ever regarded as whole entities, nothing comes close, with the exception of perhaps Nordland II, which comes, at times, very close.

Quorthon seemed to take everything which he had done in the band's middle-era viking-metal, and make it thicker, deeper, and more and more organic sounding. Compared to bona-fida classics like "Hammerheart", Nordland sounds richer, and even more grand and enormous. The album is the soundtrack to snow, ice, battle, and to longships sailing over the sea - majestic, and yet evocative of glory. One of the defining features of the album is it's tone; It's thick and crunchy, but also maintains enough treble to sound lucid, as opposed to muddy - whatever comprimise of tone Quorthon reached in studio, I can safely say that it's the best guitar sound I could hope for, in terms of the albums style. The layers of sound in the album also sound excellent, with lead work soaring amazingly over the rhythm. Although other Bathory albums may be superior in terms of reputation, and status as classics, I'm of the opinion that Bathory reached a new peak with Nordland, and the peak was only interrupted by Quorthon's death. More is the pity.

Perhaps I wrote this review more for me than for anyone reading it, but I knew it was going to happen eventually, inevitably. If anyone is reading it, and hasn't listened to much or any Bathory, I cannot recommend it enough. Frankly, I'd recommend it even to someone who hasn't listened to much metal, let alone much Bathory.

It's 10/10. I'm sure you saw that coming.

Bathory on Metal-Archives.