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Viking - Man of Straw (Reissue) Award winner

Man of Straw (Reissue)
by Darren Duffy at 21 June 2021, 9:46 PM

Formed in 1986 VIKING released their debut full-length album “Do or Die” in 1988. The southern based Californians released this their second album “Man of Straw” in 1989 before disbanding in 1990, having toured with the likes of SACRED REICH and FORBIDDEN. Brett Erikson would go on to join DARK ANGELVIKING would later reform in 2011 and release the comeback album “No Child Left Behind” in 2015. This reissue was remastered by Patrick W. Engel and released on 30.04.2021

First up is “White Death” and we experience the full spectrum of thrash in just the first 2 minutes, from the open intro chords through palm muted runs, fast triplets and blistering full speed alternate picking.  There are multiple stop / starts with tempo changes throughout and the riffs just keep coming. “They Raped the Land” starts with a slow grind before a quick count and it is full throttle thrash through most of this frenetic song. “Twilight Fate” opens with some clever interplay between the bass and two guitars, developing into more razor sharp riffage. The bass rumbles “The Trial” into life preceding into another relentless thrash assault, even at these speeds the vocals of Ron Eriksen retain their tone and clarity. “Case of the Stubborn” features another fine display of furious riffs even incorporating stop / starts at full throttle.

The tempo slows on “Winter” to a chugging mid pace groove although there are injections of speed at various stages.  A complete change of pace and style would now follow in the form of a cover version of the PAT BENATAR song “Hell is for Children”. The laid-back feel with clean guitars adds yet another dimension to the album. “Creative Divorce” returns to the relentless speed assault, intersected by a great chugging mid-section. The title track “Man of Straw” continues with the speedy precision riffing bringing the album to a blistering finale. VIKING excel in playing a brand of aggressive full-on thrash that in my opinion could draw comparison to DARK ANGEL, EXHORDER, SLAYER and SADUS. The songs are intelligently constructed, and the precision of the playing is impeccable.

In conclusion: VIKING do not really do straight forward song structures and have successfully merged multiple time changes within full throttle thrash and slow grinding sections, whilst displaying a considerable degree of technicality in their playing. This makes "Man of Straw" a very interesting and rewarding listen.

Songwriting: 9
Musicianship: 9
Memorability: 8
Production: 7

4 Star Rating

1. White Death
2. They Raped the Land
3. Twilight Fate
4. The Trial
5. Case of the Stubborn
6. Winter
7. Hell is for Children
8. Creative Divorce
9. Man of Straw
Ron Eriksen - Vocals, Guitar
Brett Erikson - Guitar
James Larrau - Bass
Matt Jordan - Drums
Record Label: High Roller Records


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Edited 30 January 2023

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