01. The War Has Begun
Artist: Nordic Union
Album: Nordic Union
Release date: 29 January 2016
Label: Frontiers Records
Nordic Union is the name behind the new musical collaboration between singer Ronnie Atkins of the Danish band Pretty Maids and Swedish songwriter and producer Erik Mårtensson.
Denmark is not famous for producing rock bands. I know Mercyful Fate and...
Pretty Maids entered the stage in the early eighties and influenced an entire generation of hair/power metal bands around the planet. In some ways they haven't gotten the recognition they are worthy of, they were light years ahead of the other bands in the genre, Ronnie Atkins style of mixing clean and almost growling style of singing was unique at the time. Volbeat often joke - We are not Pretty Maids", this statement is a bit demeanour, as to say that Pretty Maids isn't the toughest thing around but with the same air they actually state that Pretty Maids probably is one of (if not the) the largest heavy music exports out of Denmark, the land without a mountain.
It's hard to survive the music business of today, even for seasoned musicians and that is why so many become regular guest on shit TV shows all the time. The musicians making all the money these days are producing tracks for computer games and radio commercials.
I guess Ronnie Atkins want to make some easy money on the side of Pretty Maids and since Frontiers Records produce and release all sorts of strange project albums it's not surprising that this opportunity has surfaced for a man that has a voice of gold (and sand paper).
Ronnie Atkins holds a conservative political view something that is heard on the later Pretty Maids albums (f.e. Mother of all lies & Motherland). The lyrics throughout Nordic Union all depict war from the personal perspective. The fight for freedom and without getting into to much details I can imagine that Danish soldiers abroad can relate to the message on this album back to back. From the beginning of the war ("The War has Begun") all the way to the "21 Guns" salute that you get at you funeral or when you come back home and "True Love Awaits You" when you meet you mistress. If this bothers you then steer clear, but for the average Joe I think these lyrics actually comes across as more serious and real than most generic metal lyrics of today.
I don't know just where they dug up this guy, Erik Mårtensson, he sure is a chameleon indeed. I actually had to Google him to find out that he is a member of Eclipse and a part of W.E.T. that has produced two really good melodic rock albums, but the musicians are perceived as the back up musicians for Jeff Scott Soto. This is not all fair since Erik has written most of the material for W.E.T. So, will this dude actually be able to produce something good together with Ronnie or will it become a cheesy face plant in the margin of music history?
Well, I can tell you this is far away from a face plant and instead an interesting album with a promise for more to come.
Nordic Union actually is a collection of really solid tunes, surprisingly good actually. Tracks like "21 guns", "Hypocrisy", "Point of no return", and "The war has begun" actually hold a higher standard than the tracks on a typical Pretty Maids album.
The label pitch the album as "melodic rock with a modern production" and they are spot on with that. Does it come across as cheesy or forced in any way? Not the slightest and I actually hope that Mårtensson and Atkins will continue this collaboration because Nordic Union really rock!