Bathory - Nordland II
Black Mark
Epic Viking Metal
10 songs (63:18)
Release year: 2003
Bathory, Black Mark
Reviewed by Jay
Major event

Bathory just doesn’t seem to quit. After releasing Nordland I last year, they immediately follow up with the sequel. It’s hard to slag a band that has been so influential and so prolific. Without Bathory, there would be no Cradle of Filth, no Mayhem, no Marduk, etc… The black metal scene would not exist without Bathory. After several solo albums, Quorthon has decided to drop the Nordland concept series on us. This album, like part one is one of the most epic undertakings in the history of metal concepts. Clocking in at over an hour and featuring two ten plus minute opuses, Bathory has ensured their position as concept metal masters for the time being.

We are greeted by the ominous “Fanfare.” This track is a slow, unsettling descent into what will be a world of fantasy. It’s funny, but this track reminds me of the music from the Final Fantasy games on Super Nintendo. It’s the same melody repeated over and over again on synth instruments with samples of crashing waves in the background. “Blooded Shore” kicks in with classic epic male choirs and thunderous drumming. Trademark lead guitar comes in along with the accompaniment of the booming bass. The vocal style fits the music perfectly, with the choir functioning as a perfect compliment. “Sea Wolf” begins with a synth flute solo and has a flute as the main melodic instrument in the song. The rising and falling music gives the listener the feeling of sitting on a boat crossing the North Atlantic ocean in search of a new place to conquer. You can picture the men in a boat with multiple oars rowing in time with this song. The organ is a vital part of this song and is a well calculated addition to the raw, powerful guitar.

Vinland” opens with ocean wave sound effects again followed by chainsaw guitar. You can tell from the beginning that his will be another grinding song. Vinland was the part of Canada that the Vikings landed at. In fact, we here in the United States would all be speaking the descendant of a Scandinavian language if it weren’t for the Vikings voyaging home early. Whenever they teach you that Christopher Columbus discovered North America, you can counter with the fact that Lief Eriksson beat him by several hundred years. The song is a tribute to the men who braved the ocean and sailed to the new world. About this point in the album however, a pattern emerges. All the songs are approximately the same tempo and have the same instrumentation and vocal styles. It’s the constant repetition that detracts from this album. The songs blend together and become hard to distinguish after a few listens. Perfectly illustrating this point is the very next song, “The Land.” While the song manages to stand on it’s own, the music is quite similar to the preceding song with the exception of the fact that there is less singing.

Death and Resurrection of a Northern Son” is the fastest track on the album. It starts of with frenetic distorted double bass and crashing cymbals along with fast guitar. Then the vocals begin. What was Quorthon thinking? The vocals are not sung, rather they are shouted very incoherently. It is quite annoying and hard to sit through. In fact, the vocals on this song stand out as being the worst on this album. It’s really too bad because there is a weird cosmic atmosphere to this song that is ruined by the shoddy singing. The imagery is of a ship being buffeted by a strong storm in the ocean, and the imagery is pulled off well. The vocals should not have been left like this. An otherwise very good song is completely ruined by the singing.

The Messenger” is the first of the two real epic songs on the album. It has an interesting enough beat and melody but they are beaten to death by the end of the song. The vocals are a sticking point on this track as well. The earlier songs have much better articulated vocals as compared to the later tracks on the album. “Flash of the Silverhammer” has roots in industrial style music. The rather simplistic main line to the song could have been written by Skinny Puppy. Once the chorus enters, it’s pure Bathory. The final song and second epic is “The Wheel of Sun.” It starts off with a beautiful instrumental introduction that gradually builds to an epic Viking anthem. The problem is that by this time on the album we’ve heard it all before. There needs to be more variation to keep interest in an album this long and drawn out.

Overall, Nordland II is very similar in style to it’s predecessor. If you liked Nordland I, you’ll probably like this volume as well. If melodic Viking music isn’t your thing, I suggest skipping this one.

Killing Songs :
Sea Wolf, Vinland, The Land
Jay quoted 71 / 100
Jeff quoted 70 / 100
Other albums by Bathory that we have reviewed:
Bathory - Blood On Ice reviewed by Ben and quoted 93 / 100
Bathory - Bathory reviewed by Jared and quoted CLASSIC
Bathory - Under the Sign of the Black Mark reviewed by Jared and quoted CLASSIC
Bathory - Blood Fire Death reviewed by Tyler and quoted CLASSIC
Bathory - Hammerheart reviewed by Jeff and quoted CLASSIC
To see all 8 reviews click here
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