Released: 2006, Lost and Found Records
Viking is a name most thrash archivists will know. The band reared its ugly head towards the end of The Great Thrash Boom of the mid/late 1980’s, but never really rose higher than third string status. Lead by the “Eriksen brothers” (not brothers, not their real last name), the band managed to release a demo and two albums before folding, I’m guessing due to leader Ron Eriksen’s newfound religion (the man is now a pastor).
Originally released on Metal Blade Records in 1989, MAN OF STRAW was Viking’s second, and last, album. Perhaps a bit more polished and better written than the DO OR DIE debut, the album is a whirlwind ride of thrash, start to finish. Hell, even ‘80s pop queen Pat Benatar gets thrashed as the band does a surprisingly awesome cover of “Hell is for Children”, adding a little melody to the assault.
Vocally, Ron Eriksen’s vocals were a standard thrash caw, aggressive enough but not really outstanding. As for the music? Like I said, standard ‘80s thrash. There’s nothing on MAN OF STRAW that wasn’t heard on about 4,500 other albums at the time, but for me, Viking had the occasional flash of that something that helped the band rise out of the mire. “White Death” is a great aggressive opener, and “Winter” stands out as the band’s progressive epic, proving the band did have some chops to back up their attack. Overall, it’s not hard to hear why Viking never reached the upper echelon of thrash, as their music was just too typical of the time. Still, one could do worse than MAN OF STRAW as it is an enjoyable album for thrash aficionados.
As for bonus tracks, Lost and Found Records as added, in order, two tracks from the band’s 1986 demo, a demo song from the band’s planned but never released third album, and a live song from 1986 when the band opened for Megadeth – all surprisingly good, except for the heavy handed sloganeering of “Abortuary”.
Final verdict: Viking was nothing to be ashamed of and is worthy of this re-release.