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Armored Dawn - Viking Zombie Award winner

Armored Dawn
Viking Zombie
by Kira Schlechter at 23 December 2019, 3:26 AM

Brazilian Viking metal might be a strange concept to wrap your head around – what connection could there possibly be between the South American tropics and the frozen lands of Scandinavia? In metal, though, stories of brave warriors, brotherhood, and epic battles know no geographical boundaries – and ARMORED DAWN is proof.

From Sao Paulo, Brazil, the band formed in 2014 and have two previous albums to their credit, “Power of Warrior” (2016) and “Barbarians in Black” (2018). They might call themselves Viking metal, but there’s plenty of power and traditional metal elements at play. The album begins at the end, really, with the epic “Ragnarok,” which of course refers to the final battle where the Norse gods die – its sing-along chorus encourages the raising of drinking horns. Here we are introduced to Rafael’s unique and varied keyboard work and the crunchingly clean twin guitars of Timo and Tiago.

Eduardo has an interesting voice – it’s almost a drone and almost sweet, with a little bit of grit but no affectation or gimmicks. It’s definitely unusual in a metal context and takes a little getting used to, but it is definitely his alone. The judicious use of vocal harmonies give him the range he doesn’t necessarily have, which might be kind of artificial, but it works. “Animal Uncaged” is given almost a techno quality courtesy of Rafael and boasts some really stunning guitar harmonies in the bridge. Rodrigo is a clever, imaginative drummer; his double-kick work is especially noteworthy.

“Zombie Viking” has an eerie, suspenseful beginning, with keyboards and evocative guitar and lots of rhythmic experimenting. To get a supernatural theme and a Viking one in the same song, it’s got to be a winner – this being the tale of a warrior who keeps being resurrected against his will (“I’m like a phoenix rising, I’m never gonna die,” he says). And he regrets his part, apologizing, “I didn’t want to start a war.” They rely heavily on that keyboard sound throughout to give their work texture and atmosphere.

“Fire and Flames” effortlessly changes tempos throughout and those keyboards and effects establish a real signature sound. The band’s lyrics are a little repetitive (each verse seems to be the same), but musically it makes up for that shortcoming – just the very sound of the words adds to the overall feel, and Eduardo’s unusual voice is part of that. “The Eyes of the Wolves” chugs along nicely in 6/8 time, and those double-kick drums really propel and drive home that tempo, giving this tale of a Viking raid a genuine seafaring feel. It breaks into 4/4 for a bit and thrashes along before going back to that swinging groove. The vocal harmony is very subtle but adds loads of depth.

“Face to Face” has a near-hypnotic quality with Eduardo’s drone and the repetitive lyrics. “Drowning” is dark and dramatic, with a lovely stomping swinging groove and a certain airiness. It seems to be a story of loss, of someone who couldn’t help something from happening. The mournful track ends with nearly classical keyboards, acoustic guitars that have a slight Latin/flamenco feel, and wafts of cello. “Heads Are Rolling” sees them toying with techno again with a frantic keyboard part and it works. The chorus is great, melodic at first and then blasting in with a death-metal roar on the title, accompanied by buzzy guitar that makes for a cool contrast.

“Embrace the Silence” is just about a power ballad, with a straightforward rhythm and keyboards that give it an almost classical lilt. It’s soft but it’s got enough edge to keep it from being cloying. Tracks like “Blood on Blood” and the closer, “Rain on Fire,” solidify ARMORED DAWN’s definitive sound, courtesy of Eduardo’s voice and those fearless keyboards. For an indie release, “Zombie Viking” is well made, well mixed, well played, and well executed. Brazilian Viking metal is just fine, thank you!

Songwriting: 8
Musicianship: 9
Memorability: 9
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

1. Ragnarok
2. Animal Uncaged
3. Zombie Viking
4. Fire and Flames
5. The Eyes of the Wolves
6. Face To Face
7. Drowning
8. Heads Are Rolling
9. Blood on Blood
10. Embrace the Silence
11. Rain on Fire
Eduardo Parras - Vocals
Timo Kaarkoski - Guitar
Tiago de Moura - Guitar
Fernando Giovannetti - Bass
Rafael Agostino - Keyboards
Rodrigo Oliviera - Drums
Record Label: Independent


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