Ever get an album that does exactly what you expect it to do, with the added bonus of blowing your mind with the quality of the songs? Nordic Union (the pairing of Swedish legend in the making Erik Martensson and Pretty Maids’ frontman Ronnie Atkins) is everything you’d expect if familiar with the output of both individuals.
Erik of course is the frontman for Eclipse, whose albums are an absolutely essential requirement for fans of classic melodic hard rock. He’s also the man behind the just as essential and critically acclaimed albums from Jimi Jamison, Toby Hitchcock and W.E.T.
So this is precisely the best of Erik (recent Eclipse, WET and Adrenalin Rush) meets a more melodic Pretty Maids (think My Soul To Take). Raspy vocals meets the highly polished and articulately mixed, bombastic hard rock style of Erik Martensson.
Exactly what you’d expect, but boy does this baby have a monster sound and a vacuum of energy that just sucks you in. It’s catchy, it’s powerful and it’s a marvellous pairing.
The War Has Begun is a strong opener, starting slow and building intensity, featuring a good chorus and some great guitar work. It’s a foundation song that the album builds upon.
Hypocrisy has a typically Eclipse feel to it, not to mention part W.E.T also. The songs stays within itself until the monster chorus bursts to life and builds the pace. Then it never lets go.
Wide Awake is nothing to do with the Eclipse tune, apart from a similar thumping beat and a very melodic vocal from Ronnie. It’s a catchy commercial rocker with layers of music to get through.
Every Heartbeat is another track with a strong Eclipse feel. The classy ballad builds from a moody intro to an intense full band second half. Possibly the best vocal I’ve ever heard from Ronnie, he really stretches here for a great result.
When Death Is Calling is probably the stand out commercial hard rocker of the album and is an instant like. It’s the fastest track thus far and features a huge crashing beat, a great chorus and a monster sound.
21 Guns is another instant classic for me. Some keyboards join in the mix for a very melodic and moody track. A terrific melodic, heavy chorus that delivers a perfect lyric and hook.
Falling is a breezy melodic rocker with a faster pace and a commercial feel. Definitely some Pretty Maids sounds here.
The Other Side rocks hard and fast. A simpler track than some others, but equally as enjoyable and a cool fired up rocker that adds tempo to the album.
Point Of No Return rolls along at a good pace and has a new twist for followers of Erik’s work. A great chorus again, if not immediate, it’s a grower.
True Love Awaits You is another quality big rock ballad that features harmonies, layers and a lighters in the air vibe. I can imagine Erik singing this and it’s another showcase of Ronnie’s more melodic side.
Go is simply a flat out rocker with a good hook and a big fat sound. Great energetic way to close the album. A big fat hard rock sound.
All in all, a wonderful album that delivers on the hype and promise that such a pairing brings. It doesn’t quite match Eclipse or W.E.T for me, as I’m drawn to those releases more by the vocal style - here Ronnie’s rasp isn’t as smooth as Erik’s other projects. But it’s still every bit an essential release and showcases both guys in a really high quality, world class release.