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Review: Bathory - Nordland I
Nordland I

Label: Black Mark Productions
Year released: 2002
Duration: 59:23
Tracks: 10
Genre: Viking Metal

Rating: 5/5

Review online: May 21, 2004
Reviewed by: Sargon the Terrible
Readers Rating
Nordland I

Rated 4.3/5 (86%) (50 Votes)

Holy shit! I never expected anything like this from the guy who brought us "Under The Sign Of The Black Mark". This is completely not what I was expecting out of this album, but it is so totally killer I can't complain even a little. Bathory basically invented Viking Metal with the albums "Blood Fire Death" and "Hammerheart", and this, their eleventh full-length release, sees the band (actually just Quorthon, as always) carrying the genre proudly forward in grand style.

Forget everything you think you know about Bathory. Yes, the early Bathory releases paved the way for Black Metal, but this has nothing to do with BM at all. This is a tolling, epic riff-fest that's like a bastard offspring of Doomsword, Twisted Tower Dire, and Graveland. After the obligatory "Prelude" synth intro the title track comes marching forth with a great headbanging riff and awesome production. After nine minutes of doomy crunch you are sure there will be another instrumental track or an interlude, but the thunderous riffs of "Vinterblot" come blasting out and you realize this whole album is going to kill, and it does. There is not a tune on here that is not just one awesome riff after another (except for "Ring Of Gold" which is all acoustic, and still a great song.) This is much more in the vein of Doom/Traditional Metal than anything extreme. The vocals are not harsh but clean, and may be a sticking point for some. Who knew that the guy who essentially invented the Black Metal rasp could actually sing? Well, he can't sing that well, but he keeps the vocals low in the mix and stacks on lots of choral effects, which both fit the music and help disguise his shortcomings as a vocalist. Quorthon is no great singer, but he has a lot of heart and obvious feeling for this music, and he doesn't try to do things he can't do. I don't find that he detracts from the music, especially when the music is so awesome. Wait for that main riff on "Mother Earth Father Thunder"—I was literally beating my chest and hooting like an ape over how cool it is.

The package is excellent, with a great cover painting and lots of cool pics inside of Nordic landscapes. The lyrics are, of course, all about Norse myth, history, or just the region itself—pretty damned good lyrics too. The production is awesome; as the guitar tone just smashes you in the face like Thor's hammer it's so damned heavy. No instrument gets lost in the mix, and everything sounds huge and booming. Colossal would be a good word to use here, as this is just one of the heaviest fucking albums I have ever heard. If you crank the volume up, it will rearrange your frigging furniture.

So if you think the Bathory name means strictly primitive proto-Black Metal, then think again, and even people who hate Bathory's old stuff will love this. Any fan of epic, Viking, heavy-as-fuck Metal has simply got to hear this monster of a CD. An absolute masterpiece of an album from any standpoint. Raise your Hammers!

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Review: Bathory (reviewed by Michel Renaud)
Review: Blood Fire Death (reviewed by Sargon the Terrible)
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Review: Hammerheart (reviewed by Sargon the Terrible)
Review: Hammerheart (reviewed by Ulysses)
Review: Katalog (reviewed by Michel Renaud)
Review: Nordland I (reviewed by Christian Renner)
Review: Nordland II (reviewed by Sargon the Terrible)
Review: Twilight of the Gods (reviewed by Sargon the Terrible)
Review: Under the Sign of the Black Mark (reviewed by Sargon the Terrible)
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