Album Review — Nordic Union

Nordic Union — Animalistic

Nordic Union is back with their third release titled “Animalistic”. The band is a collaboration between Pretty Maids vocalist Ronnie Atkins and Eclipse/W.E.T. guitarist/songwriter/producer/vocalist Erik Martensson.

Atkins was recently given a Stage 4 cancer diagnosis but he has remained busy releasing two solo albums in the last year and now the third Nordic Union record. Atkins delivers all the vocals while Martensson wrote the bulk of the songs, played guitar, bass and keyboards and produced the record. Nordic Union sounds like a hybrid of Pretty Maids and Eclipse, so fans of both bands should be happy with what they hear.

I’ve enjoyed the first two Nordic Union records so it’s time for a track by track review.

On This Day I Fight — This project has used a lot of imagery of war/battles and this record is no different and takes on an even deeper meaning given Atkins’ current fight with cancer. The opener is heavy with a double bass drum sound but still plenty melodic. A good start.

In Every Waking Hour — Another heavy track with the double bass drum sound starts the second track. I really like the guitar riff that opens the track and returns throughout the song. The first two songs lean more Pretty Maids than Eclipse but the bridge reminds us of that Eclipse sound. Another good track.

If I Could Fly — A short intro leads to another heavier track. The chorus is a little more melodic. Atkins’ vocal style is a little gruff when at full throat which adds to the heavier sound. But he’s more than comfortable in the more melodic spaces on the record. Martensson is credited with a lot of the lead guitar work on the record, and like just about everything else, he handles with ease and precision.

Riot — This is the first track that sounds more Eclipse to me. I’m reminded of “Shelter Me” from the Paradigm record. I really like the vocal from Atkins as he sounds great on this slower track. I’ve said it before but Martensson is a star. He’s a fantastic songwriter and he’s quite prolific, writing dozens of songs each year between all of his projects. A great tune.

This Means War — Another track that leans more Eclipse. I’m hearing a little more keyboard than I’m used to on Eclipse records. It’s not overly pronounced but it’s there. Just another quality rock track.

Scream — This one could have been taken right off a recent Eclipse record. It has all of the elements I love about that band. I’m a little surprised we don’t hear Martensson vocals here but Atkins handles them just fine. One of the tracks so far.

Animalistic — The first time I heard this one it sounded like Blackie Lawless was singing an Eclipse song. And there are those keyboards again, just enough in the right places. This one grew on me after a few listens and it’s one of my favorites now.

Wildfire — I’m amazed that Martensson can keep writing great songs without duplicating himself. He certainly has a style but each track is distinct which is especially impressive given how many songs he’s written in the last few years. Another quality track.

Shot In The Dark — This is one of the more melodic tracks on the record. The double bass drum from the first two tracks is gone and most of the tracks since then definitely have a more Eclipse feel to them. Really like this one.

Last Man Alive — This one starts off slower but builds to the chorus. It’s not a ballad but it’s definitely a slower track compared to the rest of the record. I’m impressed with Atkins’ vocals. He’s been around a long time and fighting cancer but he’s able to handles the wide range of vocals here.

King For A Day — The album ends on a rocker with big gang vocals in the chorus. This one has familiar Martensson elements but there are some guitar parts that are a little different that I really like. A strong finish.

I like this album more and more with each listen. I like the hybrid sound of the two bands. The album leans more heavy at the start but settles in after that. Overall I’d say the record does have a heavier feel than the recent Eclipse records, partly due to the vocals of Atkins.

I think fans of both Pretty Maids and Eclipse will be happy with this record. It’s heavy, it’s melodic and these are some great songs. What’s not to love?

Eclipse is my favorite band over the last decade as I believe their collection of albums over the last ten years is superior to anyone else. So I’m biased when it comes to anything that includes Erik Martensson. So it’s hard for me to grade this record as I have to take into consideration all of the Eclipse material. So I’ll be conservative with my score but anyone that enjoys melodic hard rock should give this record a listen.

90 out of 100

Track Listing

1. On This Day I Fight
2. In Every Waking Hour
3. If I Could Fly
4. Riot *
5. This Means War
6. Scream *
7. Animalistic *
8. Wildfire
9. Shot In The Dark *
10. Last Man Alive *
11. King For A Day

*Best Songs

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