'Heavy Metal Thunder' is the new album from UK based doom groove merchants Viking Skull. Well kinda. Not actually all that new, it's essentially a 20 track stop gap filler piece to shine a little light on the early works of the longboat crew. Released to break the silence between 2008's 'Doom, Gloom, Heartache And Whiskey' and next year's impending EP of new material, 'Heavy Metal Thunder' is a collection of remastered tracks from the first two Viking Skull releases, namely 2003's 'Chapter One' EP and 2005's 'Born In Hell' debut album. Also boasting five further bonus tracks, it's great place to start introducing yourself to the tunes of a band whose songs show off their musical influences as clearly as the patches on their denim cut-offs.
"Skull Heaven, dirty denim, beer and weed is all I need", growls frontman Roddy Stone as Viking Skull roll out the thunder on the opening blast of 'Beers, Drugs And Bitches'. Anyone still unsure as to what this band are all about should leave now as this line does just about sum up everything 'Heavy Metal Thunder' has to offer - plenty of booze, birds and bad language. Where once Viking Skull were commonly regarded as a joke due their parody support slot beginnings the bastard sons of Motorhead and Black Sabbath have grown into a serious band in their own right and this retrospective look back at the start of their career shows that the quality of tunes was always there hidden behind the joke. Delivering brutal lessons in dirty sounding doomsday metal with enough unchained male hormones to knock up an entire class of sixth form girls in one fell swoop the fresh remastered sounds on 'Heavy Metal Thunder' highlight the power and edge that Viking Skull have possessed since day one.
From the classic 'Skull Heaven' to the razor sharp slice of rock that is 'Baby Let Me Know' little has changed in the way the Skull boys crank out the power but the earlier tracks are liable to drop in a few "borrowed" ideas here and there. With a Black Sabbath backpatch sewn right into the fabric of second track 'Wizard's Sleeve' those obvious influences are visible for all but the deaf, blind and fucking dumb to see. The main riff chugging away in 'Wizard's Sleeve' bears more than a striking resemblance to Sabbath's 'Children Of The Grave' and other such blatant rip-offs, sorry, faithful nods, sit noticeably throughout the length and breadth of 'Heavy Metal Thunder'. Iron Maiden, Thin Lizzy and AC/DC stylings are literally smeared all over the grinding workings of the unrepentant Viking's offerings and are all healthily lubricated with ten gallons of whiskey then buried in smoke. 'Saddle Up', 'Rock N Roll Suicide' and the infectious demo version of 'Double Or Quits' all continue to provide gang banging, fist shaking, party metal. Nothing here is gonna challenge the minds of the world's great thinkers but 'Heavy Metal Thunder' isn't out to provoke deep philosophical debate just to make the world a drunker, slightly debauched place where the only thing that matters is where the next bar towel to stitch onto leather jacket is gonna come from.
Titles like 'Seedealer', 'Rape, Pillage And Burn' and 'Inject My Woman (With Love)' all point a finger firmly to the sleazier side of lyrical prowess and there really is some seriously dodgy word play littered throughout the 20 tracks, but what else would you expect from a group whose original purpose was to be a spoof band anyway. It's no worse than some of the stuff Bon Scott and Brian Johnson have uttered in their time, well ok it probably is a lot worse but hey it ain't Steel Panther and that's something worth raising a glass to. It's the music after all, not the lyrics, that gets your head banging and with case loads of dirt filled riffs fused with a mile wide bluesy groove reminiscent of Deep Purple and Black Sabbath's 70's heydays 'Heavy Metal Thunder' is a suitably uncompromising riotous companion of rock to keep you banging hard well into the night. The seering 'Skulls And Whiskey' could easily have been lifted straight from Warrior Soul's 'Space Age Playboy' era while 'Red Hot Woman' cranks out a rhythmic assault akin to Airbourne and Black Label Society. The 20 tracks may be far from ground breaking in terms of style and deliverance but are none the less thoroughly enjoyable as they stamp through a raucous hour plus rage of chaos, sex and alcoholic bedlam.
Stand out moments: 'Skulls And Whiskey' and 'Baby Let Me Know'
Raise your fuckin' horns!