Another day, another Frontiers supergroup… Nordic Union is the latest on the (Frontiers boss) Serafino Perugino cashcow conveyor belt, this time teaming up Pretty Maids throatsmith Ronnie Atkins with W.E.T./Eclipse songwriting brain Erik Martensson.
The result is, as you’ve probably guessed already, forty minutes of serviceable, at times actually pretty good, melodic hard rock of the sort that this label has spent twenty years cornering the market in. Tracks like Point of No Return, which channels the spirit of Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells through its dramatic opening riff, work well and would doubtless go down well were this outfit ever to get the chance to tread the boards. Opener The War Has Begun features some nice lead work from guest axe Magnus Henrikessen of Eclipse fame, whilst big balladic production number True Love Awaits You wouldn’t sound out of place on the last couple of Pretty Maids albums.
Actually, the same could be said of at least half the material featured here, and therein lies the rub – Atkins is one of the great, distinctive voices of European hard rock, and his delivery here necessarily renders much of the material on offer as it would on any of the records he makes in his day job, begging the question: what really is the point? No new ground is broken for either of the major protagonists here, leaving the listener able only to appreciate the art offered up in one of two ways: Accept it for what it is, and enjoy it thusly, or merely write it off as another money making effort from a label that never tires of doing just that.
The choice is yours.
Nordic Union is out now on Frontiers Music