Antiq Records, 2012
Genre: Black Metal
1. Lost as a Ghost
2. Throne of Nemesis
3. La fin d'un Règne
4. The Grim Idol
5. Return to the Norman Shores
6. Ode to Honor the Brave
I remember going through the list of new arrivals at Paragon Records and I came upon this band. When I looked them up I was surprised to see they were from France, but also elated, because French Black Metal is probably my favorite. Also, my family history goes all the way back to this region, so I decided to give this project a shot immediately. I was surprised to see that the man behind the project is Fog, a musician I'd been following since early 2000 or so when he was involved with the French Angmar and Quintessence at this time, but that's about it. I wasn't aware he played any other instrument until I found Norman Shores. However, this is one of his many projects and the first solo project I encountered by him.
"Return to Norman Shores" heralds in a blend of the more melodic French style of Black Metal blended with solid Scandinavian Viking Metal. The songs are extremely well done and really remind me of the Viking Metal scene in the early days of Norway. Think along the lines of early Enslaved, but a bit faster in its performance. Even though this album is dedicated to the memory of Quorthon, I felt the main aspects drew from the Norwegian aspect of Viking Metal. Except for "Ode to Honor the Brave", which is total Bathory worship. This is directly influenced by "Blood Fire Death" down to the horse samples in the beginning! This song is an excellent homage to that era of Bathory.
I love the production quality on this release as well. It's got a very organic feel to it, which is a breath of fresh air to me, given that around 2012 a lot of Black Metal was feeling a lot more 'digital' in its production values. At least that's how I'd been feeling back in 2012. Either way Fog has managed to engineer an album fairly closely to what I would expect from a mid-90's release. I felt this really complimented the overall compositions wonderfully.
Even though this started as a fairly random buy on my end, I was really happy with it. So, if you like any of the elements I'm referencing above, this would be a great release to check out. It has definitely stood the test of time for me and I still enjoy the album to this day.