Doom Gloom Heartache & Whiskey
posted on 12/2008 By:
When respite from the more devastating elements of the metallic spectrum is needed, the first door knocked upon is usually that of the house of bruising rock n' roll. Big riffs and big hooks are craved...thick, thunderous Sabbathian grooves and top-of-the-lungs, fist-shakin' choruses. You know what I'm talking about: the Clutch swagger, the Fu Manchu shakedown, the Motorheadache wreck n' roll - there are different paths that lead to the same destination, but the goal is to raise the glass and let 'em hang out.
So, Viking Skull stumbles over and decides to throw their empty mug into the ring. They haven't been swilling the hearty mead that their name implies, however. No, cheap pisswater and cheaper whiskey fuel their sophomoric, boneheaded bullshit - this amateurish paean to the endless pursuit of getting "totally fucked-up, brah!" and the ensuing consequences. Unfortunately for the band, they wield precious few of the rollicking riffs and hellacious hooks that are absolutely requisite to lift this type of thing up from underneath the urinal cake.
Flat, (supposedly) whiskey-ravaged vocals mudstomp their way all across this thing, and the guitar work, while fleetingly interesting, comes across as cute rather than rough n' tumble. A track like "In Hell" is reminiscent of a kid bashing out power chords on a South Korean Fat Strat in his bedroom after listening to Paranoid on repeat for 3 hours, oblivious to the fact that the 'Overdrive' button on his 15 watt amp doesn't transform him into Tony Iommi. The choruses, typically the backbone of such a lighthearted romp, are merely hoarse shouts of the song's title. "Start A War", the clumsy title track, and "Hair of the Dog" (mercifully, not a Nazareth cover) follow this pattern facefirst into the dirt, unable to be held upright by the half-assed, drunken bellows that serve to rape this record of any personality or charm.
When they pick up the pace, a la "In For The Kill," the band fares a bit better, but still comes across as a transparent, 3rd rate Karma To Burn and/or Kyuss impersonator. Despite hanging around in the realm of mediocrity for the affair's majority, Viking Skull finally veer into 'blatant affront to decency' territory on the closing track, "Drink". Set to some old-time, honky-tonk piano - the Stephen stinking Foster to any Fredric fucking Chopin - the warbled tune of "drinky drink drink/gimme more drink/we're gonna drink 'til we shit our pants" would make any self-respcting human want to shove a bayonet into their temporal lobe. Somewhere, a seventeen-year-old punk is simultaneously trying to digest a case of Schiltz Ice along with the styrofoam cup that he just swallowed, and Viking Skull's juvenile testament to primate ancestry is playing in the background. He's laughing his ass off in between fits of drooling. Do you want to be that guy? Didn't think so. The level of intelligence and wit found on this record makes Chrome Division sound like Akercocke by comparison.
As an aside, this band naming themselves Viking Skull is akin to giving the liquified ass-bomb that follows 16 High Lifes, 4 shots of Jager, and a package of Kraft Singles (because it was the only thing in the fridge that wasn't a condiment) a name like Iconoclastic Imperial Nailfuck. A total waste of quality nouns and adjectives...not to mention time. A purchase of this album is a fast-track ticket to early-onset Alzheimer's.
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