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Nordic Union are the side project of Pretty Maids front-man Ronnie Atkins. Pretty Maids may have been more akin to classic hard rock in terms of sound, but Nordic Union has stretched the genre further by moving towards galloping Viking metal and tender soft rock. Although the music still has a Pretty Maids influence, it's more aggressive and dynamic which gives the band their own identity. The album contains all the staples of a hard rock album: frenetic guitar solos, thoughtful and political lyrics, a memorable chorus, a great hook and soaring vocals. What more could you want?

The War Has Begun is a powerful opener and could almost be off one of Atkins earlier albums if it wasn't for Erik Martensson's forceful musical presence on bass, guitar and background vocals giving the track a more formidable quality. Hypocrisy is another melodically solid track packed with an assertive percussion section and a surprisingly complementary pop chorus. The band manage to speckle their music with these melodic pop moments throughout the album which should enable them to secure the Pretty Maid fan base.

Every Heartbeat, one of the many ballads on the album, could have been recorded by anyone from Bon Jovi to Taylor Swift. Even if the abrupt ending cuts off the track in it's prime and the slightly fractured guitar solos dominate the track a little too much in places, it's ridiculously catchy chorus and delicate vocals are certainly an album highlight. Nobody could say that this album doesn't offer a great amount of versatility for the musicians and listeners alike. When Death Is Calling and 21 Guns, return the album to the ballsy hard rock feel whilst Falling and True Love Awaits You are another of Nordic Union's equally satisfying ballads.

Arguably this is more of a vehicle for Atkins to show his musical and vocal flexibility and even though Pretty Maids is still his top priority, flexing his musical muscles with this new collective has certainly paid off. Fingers crossed we'll be hearing more from these melodic hard rockers the next time Atkins needs a break from the day job.

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