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The final chapter. - 90%

TheBloodOmen, September 5th, 2008

I disagree with my fellow metalhead that this album only has one standout track, while I do agree that "The Land" is certainly one of them. This album is not all that dissimilar to its predecessor, with the main difference being that the first Nordland album is the better of the two.

Quorthon has stripped most of the folk/viking sound down to just a raw, distorted metal sound. It's not thrashy, it's pretty much just really loud metal music. Admittedly, there is some keyboard work here (occasionally) that feels somewhere "norse", and the choir "ahhh"s were kept to still project the image of this being viking metal.

However, beyond those two elements, there is distortion aplenty, and not much else of substance. That's good with me though, because I find the midtempo speed in which the songs are played to be quite enjoyable. Nothing is particularly different from track to track, some are heavier than others, some faster, some with and without a "viking" feel to them, but the basics are the same on pretty much every song.

Let's get to the good stuff, shall we? It begins with track two, entitled "Blooded Shore". This one opens up with a fairly nothern riff, I'd say, and some work from the choir. Then, Quorthon gives us a nice piece of guitar-driven music. His vocals are pretty much the same as always, although he may be at his finest on this song. He sings it all pretty aggressively, although we're talking clean vocals here. No more black metal screams of old. The chorus is particularly good.

The next highlight would have to be the very next track, called "Sea Wolf". This one has some nice folk-style keys throughout, and again utilizes the choir sounds. Nothing extraordinary, just guitar-driven and a bit faster than the previous song. Chorus is not nearly as strong, but the verses easily carry the song.

Then, we come to "Vinland", which opens up with sounds of the sea/ocean, and kicks into possibly the heaviest and most crushing riff on the entire record. I'd also say, overall, this is the single best guitar performance on the album. It includes some orchestral sounds, and the best chorus on the album. Quorthon's vocals are nearly as strong or as good here as on the second track, but this is probably my favorite one on the album.

The beginning to middle parts of this album are its real strength, as the very next track, called "The Land", is very strong, This open opens up with some choir chants, much lower in volume this time, backing up a strong guitar-driven piece by the architect of Bathory. The vocals are again being sung in a very aggressive way. Still not as good as track two, but is much vocally better than the previous two songs.

We don't get another standout until track 8, with "Flash Of The Silverhammer", which is the last real gem. The main riff is very strong and crunchy, and the choir is once again used in the background to give the song some substance. Through the verses, Quorthon almost sounds like he wants to give us some black metal vocals, but maintrains a very raspy version of clean singing. You can tell he's really into the lyrics, the way he forcefully delivers them on this track. The chorus is decent, but the song is carried by the verses and the bridge, which is very dark and almost black metal oriented in itself.

Overall, I definitely recommend this album to any fan of Bathory, folk of viking music, and certainly to fans of Nordland I.