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Viking Skull - 'Cursed By the Sword' (transend) 4.5/5

This is the third full length opus from Corby based 'Viking' metal outfit Viking Skull and the first for Transend.

Now from the off lets clear up any confusion, although Viking Skull do admit to being influenced by and inspired by all things viking, this album is not true Viking metal as such, there's no Amon Amarth / Falconer / Turisias / Kivimetsan Druidi style longship rowing epic nordic stylings here. Instead on first play of this album you get huge chucks of Battleaxe and Fist style NWOBHM and large helpings of post NWOBHM aggression in the style of acts like Drunken State all wrapped around a vocalist who does a damned good Blackie Lawless (WASP) impression. And to be honest I am pleased about that, cos the result is a Brit band playing tin the classic Brit metal style that I grew up listening to and as a result is right up my musical street.

To say I'm liking this one lots is a gross understatement. There are ten tracks on offer, all sweet as a nut old school headbangers that take me back to those air punching and head banging days back at Bristols old Granary Club in the 1980's. You get cuts like the savage and boogie driven Machine Gun Honey,  the AC/DC fueled Second Left On Harris, which features classic lyrics like 'I've got 1,000 watts of rock and roll, turn it up and watch your neighbours cry' and fantastic tongue in cheek beer goggle anthem You Look Like I Need A Beer. It's larger than life, in your face and what's more important, is delivered with a sense of humour that in these days of dead pan metal is a breath of fresh air. However my fave track here has to be the Sabbath inspired Sleepwalk, a true metal epic if ever there was one.

Musically this album is first rate, its aggressive and heavy yet it still manages to maintain a full on dance-floor friendly boogie attitude that will make even the squarest of old metal-heads wanna dust off the old air guitar and jam along; and that is something the current UK metal scene needs more of. The production here is spot on as well. it's tight enough to pull the sound together nicely but remains loose enough to allow the bands raw attitude and fire to shine through to the max. Not a balance that is easy to achieve.

Over all this is a great record and one I'll be playing a lot, both on air and for my own pleasure.

Well worth getting

For fans of... Motorhead, Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, Saxon, Battleaxe, Drunken State...

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