Nordic Union is a project which does exactly what its name suggests, bringing together two generations of the Scandinavian melodic hard rock scene – in the form of Pretty Maids vocalist Ronnie Atkins and uber upstart workaholic Eric Mårtensson (Eclipse/W.E.T/Age Sten Nilsen’s Ammunition). It’s a pairing brought together by Frontiers Records boss Serafino Perugino, who seems to have a knack of matchmaking potentially magical musical matrimonies – albeit to varying degrees of success.
In this case, it is a match made in heaven – or should that be a union forged in Valhalla?
The first thing that you notice about ‘Nordic Union’ is that it draws out the heavier edge to Mårtensson’s song writing; but it does so without sacrificing his sensibility for a magnificent melody or a hugely catchy hook. The songs are denser and grittier, eschewing the sheen of the likes of Eclipse and veering more towards the gutter dirtiness of his collaboration with the above referenced ASN, while at the same time drawing heavily on Atkins’ pedigree as one of the finest hard rock singers ever to have been produced by that rather impressive archipelago between the Baltic and North Seas.
This is a magnificent album that ticks all the right boxes for the melodic hard rock genre… and then some. Massive melodies combine with crunching riffs, the choruses are catchy as fuck and the performances are exemplary. Atkins in particular sounds like he had a humungous amount of fun making this album, as he stretches his voice around the material with an ease and innate ability that would be the envy of many other singers, not only of his own generation but also of those coming through below him.
The guitars are dirty, mean and angry, and the rhythms rock solid, and the whole affair rattles along at an absolutely cracking pace. The result is an album that threatens to set fire to your speakers with its fiery intensity, yet embraces you like a warm blanket while at the same time sending you dancing around the room like a maniac.
It would be great to see Messrs Atkins and Mårtensson team up the live arena and grace the likes of this year’s Firefest or Rockingham (whichever of them manages to get their act together first…)
The War Has Begun / Hypocrisy / Wide Awake / Every Heartbeat / When Death Is Calling / 21 Guns / Falling / The Other Side / Point Of No Return / True Love Awaits You / Go
Recommended listening: Hypocrisy / The Other Side
‘Nordic Union’ is released on 29 January on Frontiers Records.