Not even one year after the release of "Nordland I", BATHORY, or should I say Quorthon, are back with the second part of their ode to the north. And just like the first one, "Nordland II" also convinces from the very beginning, with another very befitting cover of Kristian Wåhlin, showing a scene from the Nordland, you can almost feel the icy breeze blow from the artwork, great!
And if anyone has had any doubts about the musical content, Quorthon and BATHORY continue right where "Nordland I" had left off, with the Viking Metal that this band had created back in the times of a "Hammerheart" and "Twilight Of The Gods" and which has inspired countless bands ever since and which they had taken up again with "Nordland I".
Again "Fanfare" is a Viking-ish intro, followed by "Blooded Shore", which brings us all the trademarks of this side of the BATHORY sound, measured tempo, majestic and epic melodies, Quorthons trademark vocals (he still cannot sing, but hey, who cares in this case?) and the big choirs, the seemless continuation of the previous album. Further stand out tracks are "The Land" with its great folk inspired melody, which adds to the whole and makes it sound even more authentic, before "Death And Resurrection Of A Northern Son" speeds things up a bit, also with a vocal performance of Quorthon in the verses that is not even to his par, but the melodic chorus more than makes up for that (also vocally) again, excellent stuff indeed, especially as in the middle there is a completely acoustic and quite breakdown.
And then we get a mammoth track of more than 10 minutes, "The Messenger" and its atmosphere reminds me a lot of classical "One Rode To Asa Bay" off their "Hammerheart" album, with the atmosphere, the samples of a horse riding, the way the melodies go, the vocals, this could very well be the worthy sequel of that classic. The following "Flash Of The Silverhammer" starts out with a killer riff, which continues throughout the song, at times enhanced by keyboards and some choir, even today a classic in the book of BATHORY!
Even though overall "Nordland II" does not fully reach "Nordland I", I still have to say that BATHORY anno 2003 still are a stalwart in the realm of Viking Metal and, well, they are just BATHORY. They have their distinctly own sound (not least thanks to Quorthon's really unique voice) and as long as they deliver quality like here, they get my thumbs up, period! (Online July 1, 2003)