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Velvet Viper – Pilgrimage (Reissue) Award winner

Velvet Viper
Pilgrimage (Reissue)
by Gary Hernandez at 21 September 2020, 4:30 PM

Once upon a time (1985 to be exact) a German Power Metal band known as ZED YAGO was formed by vocalist Jutta Weinhold and drummer ClausBubi the Schmied” Reinholdt (RIP 2018). And then the band was beset by drama, egos, and legalities and they split in 1990. Band members went hither and yon, and from the original ashes of ZED YAGO rose VELVET VIPER as well as another iteration of ZED YAGO. Fast forward to August 21, 2020 when VELVET VIPER issued a remastered version of “Pilgrimage,” the second full-length album of ZED YAGO. The album includes the original eleven tracks plus four bonus tracks, yielding close to seventy minutes of classic Metal.

This is the second reissue of ZED YAGO material under the VELVET VIPER moniker. The first, “From Over Yonder,” was reviewed here on Metal Temple in August. With a lot of bands, you get the raw, hungry wolf incarnation on their debut album. With their second album (if the band survives that long), you get the more mature, refined output. So often a band’s second album either makes them or breaks them. With ZED YAGO, their sophomore album did both. “Pilgrimage” is their Icarus. They soared so high, but at their peak, they faltered. Ironically, their song “Fallen Angel” hearkens this fate with the line: “He jumped too high and then he lost his wings.” And I guess that’s the story of Rock ‘n’ Roll.

Production wise, the album is impeccable. Full acknowledgement and credits to Jan Nemec and Ralf Basten for the mixing and Alexander Krull (Mastersound Studio) for the remastering. Every nuance, every riff, every bass line, every percussive explosion comes through crystal clear. You can feel the immense power of Jutta Weinhold’s voice — the viscera, the passion. The twin guitar assault of Gunnar Heyse and Jimmy Boehlke is also impressive. I love remastered works for this very reason. They so often uncover the full luster of material that in the past was never fully appreciated. Historically speaking, if you take in the context of the time, Metal was at its height. Excellent Metal bands could be easily overshadowed by the marketing whims of large record labels. Another story of Rock ‘n’ Roll.

Lyrically, we hear more exploits of the daughter of the Flying Dutchman. It’s epic, extra-planar high fantasy deserving of its own Netflix series. And if you’re thinking this is modern Pirate Metal filled with kitsch and silliness, think again. Sure, you get blood-pounding, fist-pumping anthems and at least one heart-rending ballad, but you also get morbid tales torture and somber ponderings on mortality. I guess it’s the full gamut of Metal material but done with hookish melodies and clean vocals.

The other great thing about remastered material is that they tend reach just a little further into the Metal and Hard Rock fan base. There are always Metal enthusiasts happy to discover bands and artists they missed along the way. When people are moaning about the state of the world today, it’s always cool to get a substantive reminder about how good the past was. And the great thing is the ZED YAGO tradition continues with two iterations of the band, VELVET VIPER and ZED YAGO. I know, this isn’t such a great thing for the band members involved — though it might be for the lawyers — but it is what it is. In the end, Metal fans get a boon. It may not be a pirate’s treasure, but music lasts a hell of lot longer than the lucre.

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

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
  1. Pilgrim's Choir
  2. Pilgrimage
  3. The Fear Of Death
  4. Pioneer Of The Storm
  5. Black Bone Song
  6. Rose Of Martyrdom
  7. The Man Who Stole The Holy Fire
  8. Achilles Heel
  9. The Pale Man
  10. Omega Child
  11. Fallen Angel
  12. Merlin (bonus track)
  13. HM Rebels (bonus track)
  14. King Arthur (bonus track)
  15. Ring Of Stone (bonus track)
Lineup:
Jutta Weinhold – Vocals
Gunnar Heyse – Guitars
Jimmy Boehlke – Guitars
Wolfgang “Tatch” Mirche – Bass
Claus “Bubi The Schmied” Reinholdt – Drums
Record Label: Massacre Records
     


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Edited 23 October 2020
 

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