Sound: The second part of the "Nordland" series (which was supposed to be succeeded by a third and even fourth part, before Quorthon's untimely death in 2004) is slightly more melodic than its predecessor. While "Nordland I" features a tad bit more trad. metal-influences and harsh vocals, "Nordland II" focuses almost entirely on huge viking metal-themes and clean singing. The production, still as brutal, is a bit less "compressed" than that of its predecessor, and the vocals are (unfortunately) buried deeper in the mix. The instruments still sound massive and quite pleasant, if you can cope with the drum machine. // 7
Lyrics: Whenever Quorthon wrote about normal things, like on his solo albums, his lyrics were frankly pretty worthless. However, he would always write amazing stuff when he made viking metal. Most of the lyrics are reminiscent of the "Hammerheart" album in that they describe the culture and the beliefs of the Scandinavian vikings, but album closer "The Wheel Of Sun" would be a perfect fit on "Twilight Of The Gods" with its sombre mood and philosophical lyrics. The song also features some of Quorthon's finest "death groans" in ages!
Ah, the vocals... Well, everyone who's heard Bathory knows that Quorthon really isn't the best guy around at achieving the right pitch. But that's one of the many things that are so charming about this legendary artist, and it wouldn't sound right to have an actual vocalist sing this stuff. It's way too personal. // 6
Overall Impression: At first, this album would get boring for me after about half of it. But it's a real grower, and now I consider it to be one of the very finest Bathory albums, right up there with "Hammerheart" and "Blood Fire Death". It's also vastly superior to "Nordland I". If you like your metal EPIC, all atmosphere and no virtuosity, then this is for you. There is really only one song which doesn't fit the bill here, and it's "Flash Of The Silverhammer" which should've been on the first part.
I will leave you with some recommended tracks: "Blooded Shore", "Sea Wolf" for a good ol' sea-shanty, "Death And Resurrection Of A Northern Son" for a change of pace, and 12-minute epic "The Wheel Of Sun" just because it's such a fitting epitaph for both Bathory as a band and Quorthon himself. The man who invented both black metal and viking metal truly saved some of the best for last... // 8