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Viking Skull - "Doom Gloom Heartache & Whiskey" (CD)

Viking Skull - "Doom Gloom Heartache & Whiskey" CD cover image

"Doom Gloom Heartache & Whiskey" track listing:

1. Start A War (3:14)
2. Doom Gloom Heartache & Whiskey (4:48)
3. In Hell (4:24)
4. Hair Of The Dog (2:52)
5. Shot Down (4:08)
6. Double Or Quits (3:17)
7. In For The Kill (3:00)
8. 19 Swords (4:50)
9. Drink (6:41)

Reviewed by on December 19, 2008

"The gravelly and harsh style of singing that the vocalist employs is perfect for the music and sounds like he’s been up for two days straight drinking and just realized that he has to be on stage in a few minutes."

When the Viking Skull drummer described their music as straight up beer drinking metal he wasn’t far off the mark. Replace the beer with several bottles of sour mash liquor to get the real feel for their newest album “Doom, Gloom, Heartache, and Whiskey,” which is the sort of music needed for those nights where the sounds get all tangled into a constant droning buzz, vision becomes incredibly blurry, and the smell of cigarette smoke hangs in the air even when there isn’t anyone actively smoking. Whether at the bar or in the living room, Viking Skull is there to encourage further acts of self destruction.

There is a very thick and chugging guitar sound on each of the songs. The riffs and hooks themselves are very simplistic and prone to repetition, but they are overall nice and catchy so the lack of technical prowess isn’t much of an issue. The gravelly and harsh style of singing that the vocalist employs is perfect for the music and sounds like he’s been up for two days straight drinking and just realized that he has to be on stage in a few minutes. There is a slight doom edge to the vocals that puts them almost over the edge into more extreme metal, but it never hits a death metal level. The opening song, “Start a War,” is the primer to get the crowd riled up and buying shots at the bar before the real show gets started with the title track, which throws in some dual guitar parts as the vocalist lends his guitar talents as well.

The strongest song is the short “Hair of the Dog,” which weirdly isn’t a cover of the Nazareth classic. Its strong drum beat and guitar virtuoso style solos will probably have women tearing their shirts off and throwing their panties on stage. “Shot Down” shows a different side of the band with an almost blues like acoustic guitar opening that’s very depressing, as though the guitar player just gathered the courage to ask the lady for her number and got harshly rejected. Even when the distorted guitars and harsh vocals show up again the song keeps an interesting country-influenced feel that sounds like it should be used in a scene from an action flick that’s taking place in a cowboy bar.

At just past halfway through the album, when the formula might get stale, comes “Double or Quits,” which works as that moment during the night when the second wind arrives and the beer starts flowing again. While definitely not upbeat, it is much more hip and energetic than the other songs. Viking Skull then takes an interesting detour with “19 Swords,” which has a much more classic metal feel, not only with the guitar sound but also with the subject matter, as the lyrics deal with riding on to glory, sword held high. The sound effects in the background mimicking a choir as though it were a power metal track are a little out of place, and the booze-fueled vocals don’t quite work as well with fantasy themed lyrics, but it’s still an overall decent track.

The finale, “Drink,” is amazing even if it lacks anything heavy, with its piano and tambourine duo crafting the scene of a bunch of drunks in an old time saloon figuring out that the sun has just come up. Since the damage they have dealt to their livers from the night’s festivities was probably permanent, they might as well just top off their drinks one last time anyway. The lyrics are also amazingly inspiring with lines like “Let’s drink till we shit our pants!”

“Doom, Gloom, Heartache, and Whiskey” has some repetition between songs because of their simple nature and the way that the guitar tone stays pretty uniform throughout, but if the album is being used for its intended purpose of fueling a night of hard drinking then those weaknesses won’t even be noticed. The few forays into more variable territory also make it a worthwhile purchase for just about any fan of metal.

Highs: Catchy and has a great "drink all night" vibe

Lows: Repetitive and has a few out of place elements

Bottom line: Viking Skull brought the music, now who the hell is bringing the liquor?

Rated 4 out of 5 skulls
4 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)