NORDLAND "European Paganism"
This is already the fourth long play by NORDLAND, a one-man Black Metal horde, which hails from North East England. "European Paganism" divides into three parts. The twenty seven and half minutes long "The Mountain" opens the album. This song is by far the most varied and versatile on the CD. You can find there almost everything that made the Black Metal genre great. I mean all the traditional components and even a big dose of ambientish atmosphere. The generally calmly acting riffs were not bothered even with the here and there appearing blast-beat parts. Vorh (all instruments & vocals) precisely structured this song and if I had to go into details then I would say he excellently spices some kind of ENSLAVED, SATYRICON, IMMORTAL blend with the atmospheric vibe of HYPOCRISY. The second tune lasts almost 9 minutes and it has the title of "A Burning of Idols". Musically, it comes with the same Nordic key as its predecessor; the feel of SATYRICON is pretty evident there. The lyrics are filled with passion to paganism and hate to christianity. The album ends with the epic "Rites at Dawn". It mostly builds upon marching middle tempos with rather harsh vocalizing, although some blasts are also presented there. Still it is a pretty calm song. As a whole this album is amazing and I only can recommend it for checking out!
NORDLAND "European Paganism"
...Lifeless, still, dead ... - A Burning Of Idols. It is already fourth album from this North East England project of Vorh who deals with music from the scratch. European Paganism is a 3 songs full length album but total time is over 40 minutes long and includes The Mountain song which is even 27 minutes long. However I do not get bored by that and can easily sleep at night after dose of such great black metal music which this album has opened for me. I would never know that it was one man band if I did not check album details because this one sound surprisingly good. Almost as regular as band with more members in. With all due respect to the sound of Nordland which is really good, even beyond expectation, the music follows the trails of European black metal, but in possibly best manner. ...Wrapped In Skin From Beast Of Woid, Given Knowledge, Sacred, Old... - Rites At Dawn. Vorh pumped this album with rivers of evil riffs and hateful sounding vocals but lyrically he sticks to nature, fantasy and paganism. He tunes a sound in tradition of Norwegian or Swedish black metal. However, I do not even know if nowadays there is a talk about specific Scandinavian sound anymore, since the entire world has been doing it for decades now. It is not that important I guess...If you like Immortal albums from era of Pure Holocaust and Battles In The North then Nordland is a band for you. Maybe European Paganism is not as catchy as music of Norwegians but has more elements of epic glory, instead. Vorh, once he explores one music idea with no rush to change, jumps onto another one so the songs are diverse and he always strikes with some sharp, new riffs. Vocals have this triumphant black metal rasp and since thousands of people die for it in black metal, I have no reason to think otherwise about Vorhs memorable vocal performances in the album. I do not know previous releases of Nordland yet but European Paganism has all signs of maturity in every aspect. I am glad I have met this bands black metal music ferocity and few calmer, epic moments in my way.
NORDLAND "European Paganism"
Nordland are a one-man band/project by a man called Vorh from the UK and “European Paganism” is their fourth full length. I have been deeply impressed by their most recent album “The Dead Stones” so I needed to go back and also check out its predecessor. Like it is the case with more or less each metal genre having its origins way back in the eighties there is little room left for innovation. There is a reason why some bands made big waves back then and have gained a lot of followers over the past decades. Vorh is clever enough to pay tribute to some of the big names and chose a quite conservative approach of taking all the well-known single pieces putting them back together and enhancing them with a little bit of their own DNA to create something that sounds familiar but fresh at the same time. The classic tremolo lines are in full force and there are a lot of the typical epic and often melancholic melodies that we all know from the Scandinavian bands of the second wave of black metal. There are glimpses of the minimalistic and raw approach that used to define black metal in the beginning but also some bits that have a more laid-back and less adventurous feeling. Some of the trademark chords even show nods to several death metal outputs so the overall sound presents and interesting and highly entertaining mixture. The lead harmonies are always there in the background providing a lot of haunting harmonies and lending the whole music a sinister and moody overall feeling. Vorh has put a lot of emphasis on creating a brooding atmosphere that is eerie and dark yet has a certain kind of melancholic beauty. Pitched against the heavy riffs and the pummeling blast attacks those main themes give the record a very special character. Consisting of only three lengthy tracks build-up and interludes are used for connecting the different sections of the songs. The vocals are intense and gave me goose bumps during the first spin. It feels like a ghost from the other side is howling through space and time to warn us mortals about some dark and ancient secrets. While this is a quite familiar approach it perfectly works in this context and feels like a natural fit. The production is almost flawless with the right combination of rawness and clarity to give each instrument and sonic detail enough room to breathe. The end result is a very natural and organic sound fitting the music like a glove. Overall Vorh has not reinvented the wheel on “European Paganism” but delivered a very solid piece of black metal.
NORDLAND "The Dead Stones"
Nordland is a very hard-working band as “The Dead Stones” is already album number five with the timeframe of only seven years. That being said “band” is a bit misleading as Nordland is just some guy called Vorh who is doing everything by himself. While one-man-projects are nothing new in this day and age the professional quality presented on this album is fascinating. Instead of trying to find a completely new sound Vorh took inspirations from the big Scandinavian bands of the nineties and injected some of his own ideas to make the music come across fresh and energetic. The main riffs might sound familiar but some of the chord progressions feel like a modern twist on something that has been written three decades ago. A lot of the trademark chops are repeated over and over again but often with subtle variation lending the music a slightly monotonous but also hypnotical and very stringent character. The greatest aspect of the album is how the harmonies of the lead guitars have been woven into the whole picture and how they work as contrast to the aggressive riff attacks. Vorh has a fantastic talent for creating haunting and beautiful melodies that feel melancholic and depressive but also offer a glimmer of hope at the same time. He has worked with the interaction of musky moments and lighter pieces and has melted all those elements into one great piece of sinister and eerie art. The ambient soundscapes dwelling in the dark build a fantastic and gloomy atmosphere. I am not sure if the drums are programmed or not but in case of the former the programming job is really more than solid. There are some tempo and rhythm changes well implemented into the mix but generally speaking the drums work as metronome in the background dictating the beat but leaving the big stage to the awesome harmonies. The vocals are fierce and evil with Vorhs tone having a real recognition value. He is barking and growling and screaming like a dog of war ramping up the intensity of the album even more. It is not so easy to judge black metal vocals as they are most of the time mainly about sounding as aggressive as possible but what I can say without hesitation is that his style is perfectly fitting the music. The production is clear and powerful. Some might argue that the mix is too clean for black metal but I for one believe this is necessary to make each detail audible. All the instruments and other sound details have enough room to breathe making the musical journey the more enjoyable. Rounded off by a fantastic looking cover artwork “The Dead Stones” is a great piece of atmospheric yet pounding black metal.
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