Viking Skull

Heavy Metal Thunder

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When a bunch of metalheads have the word "Viking" in their name, it would be easy to assume that they are from Sweden or Norway and are offering some type of Viking-themed black metal, Viking-themed death metal, or Viking-themed folk-metal. But Viking Skull are not from Scandinavia, they don't get into Nordic mythology, and Heavy Metal Thunder has nothing to do with black metal, death metal, or folk-metal. Actually, Viking Skull are a British band with a rowdy, biker-friendly approach that draws on Motörhead, stoner rock, AC/DC, and the Southern-fried side of alternative metal. In alt-metal, there are certain bands that get a lot of inspiration from Southern rock; Alabama Thunder Pussy, Hammerlock, Brand New Sin, the Texas Hippie Coalition, and Maylene & the Sons of Disaster are among the bands that have combined their punky, grungy, alt-metal aesthetic with a strong appreciation of Lynyrd Skynyrd and other Southern rockers. And there is no reason why a Hammerlock fan or an Alabama Thunder Pussy fan would dislike Viking Skull. But instead of trying to sound exactly like their American counterparts, Viking Skull also have those Black Sabbath/stoner rock, Motörhead and AC/DC elements in their biker boogie. Heavy Metal Thunder is in no danger of being mistaken for quiet, gentle introspection; this reissue (which unites 2003's Chapter One, 2005's Born in Hell, and some bonus tracks on a 72-minute CD) goes out if its way to sound like a biker party from hell, and the fact that Viking Skull are so unapologetically cartoonish about it is a big part of their charm. When an album's song titles include "Beer, Drugs and Bitches," "Rape, Pillage and Burn," "Skulls and Whiskey," and "Born in Hell," you know that the band in question isn't afraid to engage in some goofiness that would make Spinal Tap proud. And Viking Skull have more going for them than just an ironically over-the-top image; they also deliver the hooks, making Heavy Metal Thunder a fun, if derivative, contribution to the zanier side of alternative metal.

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