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Viking Skull - "Heavy Metal Thunder" (CD)

Viking Skull - "Heavy Metal Thunder" CD cover image

"Heavy Metal Thunder" track listing:

1. Beers, Drugs and Bitches
2. Wizard's Sleeve
3. Frostbite
4. Rape, Pillage and Burn
5. Crazy Trucker
6. Skull Heaven
7. Born in Hell
8. Crank the Volume
9. Red Hot Woman
10. Seedealer
11. Heavy Metal Thunder
12. Saddle Up
13. Double or Quits (Demo Version)
14. Rock and Roll Suicide
15. Conquer the World
16. Baby Let Me Know
17. Skulls & Whiskey
18. Dirty Dirty Hole
19. Inject My Woman (With Love)
20. You Can't Kill Rock & Roll

Reviewed by on September 29, 2010

"This is definitely an album best appreciated in a crowded bar after a beer or two."

Viking Skull's "Heavy Metal Thunder" is proof that a great groove can overcome unoriginal songwriting and subpar singing. Even as I was tempted to start tearing this album apart for its near-complete lack of originality, I still found myself tapping my toes and appreciating the band's hard-partying vibe.

"Heavy Metal Thunder" combines material from Viking Skull's first EP, "Chapter One" and full-length album, "Born in Hell," which were previously unavailable in the United States, plus five bonus tracks. Basically, what you really need to know about this band is that it worships at the altar of 1970s metal, with Lemmy-like frontman Roddy Stone delivering the lyrics in a gravel-throated growl. The current lineup includes Dom Wallace and Frank Regan on guitar, Jess Margera on drums and Kevin Waldie on bass, but there were plenty of other members that made contributions to the songs on this disc.

Initially, "Heavy Metal Thunder" has a real doom metal vibe to it, with plenty of Sabbath-style riffing. For example, the opener, "Beers, Drugs and Bitches" essentially cribs part of the famous "Iron Man" riff for a slow section played a la "Hand Of Doom." "Wizard's Sleeve" and "Skull Heaven" both borrow heavily from Sabbath's "Children Of The Grave," as does "Crank the Volume" to a lesser degree. Later tracks like "Double or Quits" and "Baby Let Me Know" have an AC/DC boogie style, with super-simple guitar riffs that, nevertheless, get the job done.

As great as the grooves on tracks like the southern-fried "Skulls & Whiskey" are, there's still the matter of Stone's vocals to deal with. If you're going to growl like Lemmy, at least vary the volume or something. Certainly, tracks like "Crazy Trucker" benefit from a full-on shout, but on some other tracks, the vocals get to be a bit much.

No, from its title on down, "Heavy Metal Thunder" isn't even remotely the most original album you'll hear this year. Still, I've got to admire Viking Skull's dedication to the groove. This is definitely an album best appreciated in a crowded bar after a beer or two.

Highs: "Skulls & Whiskey," "Double or Quits" and "Baby Let Me Know."

Lows: Many of the early tracks have a decided lack of originality.

Bottom line: Some great grooves rescue an otherwise unoriginal album of '70s-style metal.

Rated 3 out of 5 skulls
3 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)