Today, we often find metal warriors in the geographical margins - battles that reign beyond trends have seldom been the city poseur´s favorite cup of tea. And being a warrior means that you a) keep the faith and stick to your guns and b) stay loyal to your friends.

In this process, purposes often cross. The road to Viperine´s first album has been long and winding, but paved with a sense of inevitability. When metal music of calibre comes into existence in the North, we can trust Thor, the Viking God of thunder, to give it voice.

Come spring 2002 and Kalix-based Winterlong´s drummer, bass player and singer suddenly found themselves bandless. A true warrior will not stay silent for long, however.

The trio quickly called upon the services of the finest guitarist in the area - a man with semi-legendary status, at the time en route from Belgium and a stint with prog-rockers Karyan.

The new merger was christened Viperine and seemed to gel instantly: the first rehearsals produced songs like "Obsession" and "Like a Viper". The group then recorded demos and, subsequently, gigged in the north of Sweden and Finland.

A performance in Haparanda, Sweden in the summer of 2002 is particularly memorable - just as Viperine was about to enter the stage, Thor paid tribute with his hammer and unleashed a thunder storm!

Sadly, some problems of unreliability on the drummer´s side and a streak of bad brakes threatened to bury the band, and for a time the individual members pursued various other projects.

But when the call came in December of 2003, things quickly fell into place. With a new drummer within the ranks, Viperine set about working in the studio. Basic tracks were laid down in a matter of days - vocals and solo guitar soon followed.

The Predator Awakens now hits the market.

And, suddenly, all the tribulations seem worthwhile. Singer Hussni has never sounded better, a screamer with an inherent "hoarseness" that adds a pleasant flavour to the proceedings. Erik Thornberg is a modern bass player with as much team-spirit as chops, and newcomer Matt Buffalo sports one of the biggest and best pair of feet in the business.

And, first among equal, Payre Kankanranta delivers guitar work with uncanny precision and control. Phenomenal playing techniques aside, his compositional abilities and impressive stage-persona also serve the purpose well.

The eleven songs speak for themselves, with emphasis on the word songs. For all the heaviness and brutal grinding going on, I find the melodic elements in the music most pleasant, especially considering the musical clichés usually plaguing the genre.

The Predator Awakens is an expression of the true metal/rock and roll spirit, qualities almost made extinct today.

To play it on moderate volume would be an insult.

Lasse Stenman, 2004.

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