Released: 2008, Powerage Records
Expecting to hear some Viking-themed death metal when I popped in the promo CD to have a listen, I was pleasantly surprised when some Black Label Society had (I thought) sneaked its way on to the Viking Skull CD. Anyway, leaving aside the disappointment at the lack of Viking DM, DOOM, GLOOM, HEARTACHE & WHISKEY is a great example of how 70s Black Sabbath can (and should) be re-worked into newer material. The band boasts Bam Margera’s older brother, Jess Margera, as well as the former members of Raging Speedhorn.
The boys from Corby, UK, have obviously learnt from the Tony Iommi school of making a simple riff last an entire song, while making it sound immensely powerful and meaningful at the same time. ‘In Hell’ for example sounds like it could have jumped straight off PARANOID. Throw in the blues-rock energy and shout-out-loud qualities of AC/DC and you should have an immediate winner – simple uncomplicated riff-based heavy rock. But wait, there’s more.
This band owes Black Sabbath and AC/DC an immense debt, but they take in more influences than just these two bands. A lot of the riffing is reminiscent of NWOBHM, especially bands like Motorhead and Diamond Head, sounding almost like downpicked chugging pre-thrash but with a lot more groove. And the vocals pay absolute tribute to Zakk Wylde of Black Label Society, a whiskey-fueled hoarse shout is just what you want to complement bluesy riffs. Hell, there’s even a bit of chicken-pickin’ on the solo of ‘Hair of the Dog’. What more could you want?
I love the acoustic intro of ‘Shot Down’, I’m a total sucker for Southern rock that evokes images of campfires and life under the stars. Don’t worry, it doesn’t dwell too much on that as it quickly bashes into a stompin’ rollin’ hard rockin’ number that BLS would be proud of. And the perfect end to an album titled DOOM, GLOOM, HEARTACHE & WHISKEY is an ode to drinking, simply called ‘Drink’ – a catchy ol’ singalong that sounds like it was played on an old London East End pub piano, a time when life was uncomplicated and Whitechapel criminals were rascals, scallywags and ne’er-do-wells rather than murdering bastards. With the refrain of “Drink til we shit our pants/Drinky drinky drink/Give me more drink/Til We shit in our pants”, how can you not be charmed?
There was never a more aptly titled album than Viking Skull’s DOOM, GLOOM, HEARTACHE & WHISKEY (or a more deceiving band name). Check them out if good honest untechnical hard rock is your pint of ale.