Sound — 7
What do you get if you combine Therion's mix of big, melodic Wagnerish orchestrations and metal, with the sparse, coarse sound of early norweigan black metal like Burzum or Mayhem? Probally something close to Bathorys masterpiece Nordland. In the begining, I had a hard time understanding the albums greatness. The arrangements was way to majestic to apeal to the minimalistic black metaler in me, but the production, raw, unpolished and noisy to satisfy my more epic side. It really seems to be an impossible combination. Especially with Quorthons very special, non-growling singing voice. It took me a while to really penetrate and understand the meaning of this album. But then it struck me. There really is no other way this music could be sounding. I pictures an era whose beauty lies in its rawness, thus can't the sound be anything but raw and basic. Seen in this light, you begin to notice all the little things. The distorted guitars creates fantastic harmonies, the cheap synth-choirs is swirling around in the background, tickling your fantasy in a way few other album manages. So if you don't like Nordland the first time you hear it, don't throw it out the window. Give it time to grow. I promise that the effort will be rewarded.
Lyrics — 7
I'm not much for lyrics of any kind, so I won't judge these. I have always felt that the music is the important thing. Had I'd been intressting in poems, I'd be running around on fields of daffodills, in a frilly shirt. However. I often don't read the lyrics at all, since I'm afraid that the content of them will affect my impression of the actuall music. This is, however, not the case with Nordland. Somehow, Quorthons expresses exactly the same thing musically as in the lyrics. It is pretty amazing. However, I can't say I like Quorthons voice. Only downside with this record I'd say.
Overall Impression — 9
One word comes to mind to describe this album; epic. It all begins instrumental, with a horn blowing, and a lone, male voice humming in the background, the mix ever growing stronger and more dense to add tension, creating a feeling that immediatly takes the listener back to a misty day in the younger iron age of what half a millenium later would be known as Sweden. A setting in which we will remain for almost an hour, accompanied by Quorthons majestic arrangements and enthralling melodies. The second track begins as heavy as the first began soft. Guitars riffing away, still backed up by choirs and horns, and something as unusual as Qurthon actually singing (not growling, mind you). The music keeps going from soft to heavy, slow to fast, mellow to dramatic the entire album, and there is no dull moment. Just the order of the tracks itself is masterfully done to catch the listeners attention. The acoustic piece Ring of Gold is wonderfull to just sit back and close your eyes to, as is the heavy Mother Earth Father Thunder. For the true metalheads there are plenty of fast, thrashy riffs to bang your head to as well. One of the most fantastic records I own, since it goes beyond merely good tunes, but actually takes you to another realm. This is the true viking metal!