Release date: January 29th 2016
Frontiers President Serafino Perugino has masterminded collaborations between various artists hoping to find that perfect combination of sonic bliss. Some have worked better than others but his newest project, working under the name Nordic Union, might be his best.
It pairs Ronnie Atkins, the voice of Pretty Maids, and Swedish songwriter and producer Erik Martensson of Eclipse and W.E.T. fame. The final product is blast of melodic hard rock at its best.
The two fellow Scandinavians have crafted a hard hitting album with clever arrangements, plenty of power, and melodic hooks.
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The anthemic opener 'The War Has Begun' encompasses everything that defines the genre. This mid-tempo monster plows forward with big riffs and vocals, the undeniable hook keeping you locked into its sonic outpouring.
Equally as good is the following track 'Hypocrisy'. The atmospheric opening crumbles from a guitar riff disguised as a sledgehammer, and everything melts into the addictive chorus. Fredrik Folkare (Firespawn, Unleashed) adds a ripping guitar solo.
The layered 'Wide Awake' keeps the focus on melody as it combines pop and melodic rock. Things slow down with 'Every Heartbeat', mixing in all the classic ingredients that makes up the traditional rock ballad.
My favorite track takes the album to another level - it's the brilliantly penned 'When Death Is Calling' which roars from the opening mesmorizing guitar riff. The heavier guitar and darker tones gives the song a thundering force while the dynamics between the verses and choruses collide with sonic fury as the melodic hook devours the song.
'21 Guns' is another anthemic song with a strong chorus that sticks with you. 'Falling' has a strong pop sense with layerd harmonies and more simplistic approach. This song should be accessible to the masses with its strong melodic feel.
Both 'The Other Side' and 'Point Of No Return' are straight forward rockers, sticking to the foundations the album is built upon. The ballad 'True Love Awaits You' plays the voices of Atkins and Martensson perfectly, its pop ideals and melodic sense infectiously resonating with the song's emotion.
The perfect ending awaits with the album closer 'Go'. It's as catchy as the earlier tracks on the album and the crunchy guitar in verses adds a tough tecture before the chorus takes the song over.
Ronnie Atkins provides a magnificent performance throughout. His vocals are razor sharp and caters to what the songs call for.
Erik Martensson's fingerprints are all over this album. He provides guitar, bass, keyboards, background vocals, and is a excellent songwriter, also taking the controls and producing a near perfect sounding record.
This album shows how good melodic hard rock can be when done right. We are in a time where there are so many side-projects and collaberations that albums get lost in the shuffle pretty quick.
Hopfully the brillance of this album will be heard and appreciated because it deserves serious attention. Let's hope we get a second offering from this duo.
Ronnie Atkins: Lead & Background Vocals
Erik Martensson: Lead Guitar, Bass, Keyboards and Background Vocals
Magnus Ulfstedt: Drums
Guest Guitar Solos:
Thomas Larsson, guitar solo on 'Every Heartbeat' & 'Wide Awake'
Fredrik Folkare, guitar solo on 'Point Of No Return' & 'Hypocrisy'
Magnus Henriksson, guitar solo on 'The War Has Begun'
Produced by Erik Martensson