It started back in the 1990’s for me. Grunge was in and the music I grew up with and loved was all but gone. Wrong! A few bands I loved in the 80’s from Europe were still putting out music like Bonfire and Magnum but then I found bands like Pink Cream 69, Gotthard, Shakra, Ten in the 90’s and Danish hard rock band Pretty Maids. I didn’t know them back in the 80’s but I became a big fan. I followed them throughout and then finally in October 2014 at the Firefest Festival, a dream was fulfilled when I got to see them live. Pretty Maids lead singer Ronnie Atkins has now teamed up with Swedish songwriter and producer Erik Martensson of Eclipse and W.E.T. for Nordic Union.
At first, I wasn’t sure what to expect. The more melodic sound of Martensson or the heavier side of Atkins.
Created by Frontiers President Serafino Perugino, the band consists of: 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, Nordic Union is set for a release date of January 29th, 2016.
Atkins says: “The music on the album has a focus on good melodies and there’s some good guitar work as well. I had a good gut feeling ever since I heard the first songs from Erik Martensson, and I was right he’s a very gifted and talented songwriter! While Pretty Maids is still my first priority,” explains Ronnie, ”The production process and the work on this record went very smoothly. I think what came out is a killer Melodic Hard Rock album with a lot of good songs on it – I could really feel the songs as mine and identify with those. So I hope the fans will be able to share my view and It’s been some kind of a little fresh breath in between albums for me really.”
The album starts with “The War Has Begun”. Truly a remarkable song to start off this new project. Ronnie is right in saying that he feels like these songs are his as this fits perfectly with what we have known him to do over all these years. A hard hitting melodic song that ties in the perfection of our Scandinavian dream team.
“Hypocrisy” leads into more of that classic Pretty Maids sound with a chorus that has you singing along. Hard hitting drums and electrifying guitars make this track unforgettable.
The next track is quite fitting. “Wide Awake” is full of textures of melodic, hard rock and a great feel leading up to the chorus that you should crank up if you haven’t already.
Time to slow things down with “Every Heartbeat“. Atkins shows that after all these years he keeps hitting the mark with his superb vocal skills.
So many great songs on this CD but this could be my favorite. “When Death Is Calling” is another edgy hard rock melodic song. This album has set the mark for 2016 releases.
“21 Guns” and “Falling” continues this duo with Martensson shinning as he has done throughout including his backing vocals.
“The Other Side” I am hearing more of the Martensson influence which is no doubt a rocking faster paced melodic song. A guitar solo that would have any guitar hero fan playing the air guitar.
“Point of No Return” is a straight forward melodic song that fits perfect with the rest of these amazing songs.
“True Love Awaits You” is another slower track leading into the final song. “Go” finishes off as a catchy track that will have the listener wanting more from these two.
We can only hope they will both get back in the studio with their own bands and try and top this amazing release for 2016. Cross our fingers that before the year ends or early in 2017, we can hear more from these incredible musicians together again.
I true gem for any fan of Melodic Rock or Hard Rock.
Shawn “Animalize” Irwin