Viking Skull – Doom Gloom Heartache and Whiskey - 2.5/5
Ok, so a break from those unheard of bands, this band – whilst not popular – is certainly not unknown. I first heard their song “Skull Heaven” with the release of their EP Chapter One, and ended up having to import both Chapter Two and Born in Hell. Whilst Born in Hell was everything I wanted from them – gritty, joke-filled songs about drinking too much, sleeping around and generally living the metalheads dream, the release of their second album was a major disappointment, as despite a couple of strong tracks it took on a more serious tone which didn’t work so well, despite often better riffs being present. Both albums cover nothing new with regards to sound, but it was never intended to. Starting out as a side-project of the metalcore band Raging Speedhorn (though as of their second album, completely Speedhorn free), the intention was to make old-school heavy metal and have fun with it.
So that brings us to the third helping of ballsy all out old school heavy metal, opening with “Lets start a War.” This dispenses of an introduction and goes into full-on headbang mode. With the gritty vocals screaming the title of the track, and featuring a solo far more impressive than anything ive heard from them thus far, this started off the album with a real kick, which only harshened the blow when the second track arrived. With a slow, palm muted riff, this sounds content and melancholy. It doesn’t make me want to drink, it doesn’t make me want headbang, it fails to produce the sound desired.
Not all the tracks are this bad though, in particular “in hell” and “In for the kill stand out as well thought out tracks with plenty of attitude. The drumming is largely bland, rarely will I say this, but he needs to use the bass more. Its barely audible, and a nice loud bass drum would work wonders in giving many of the tracks a harder edge. Same goes for the bass guitar, it needs to stand out some more. Its not bad production, its badly done production.
The vocals are as ever consistent, not spectacular but unique and fitting with the sound their trying to create, and the guitarist has improved in the soloing department, creating the best solo’s of the bands career to date, yet the riffs have suffered, and often were turned into a palm muted section followed by a chord or two.
This is an album I really wanted to enjoy – I still love their debut “Born in Hell” – but there are simply too many flaws to warrant a decent mark.
Highlights: Start a War, In Hell, In For the Kill
By T. Bawden