CD review VIKING ‘Do or Die’ & ‘Man of Straw’ – re-releases

Thrash metal in the ’80s, that was the time of a new style in metal that slowly developed and brought bands like Metallica, Slayer, Exodus, and many more to the surface. San Francisco’s Bay Area was one of the cradles for this rather aggressive way in heavy metal and while some bands made it to the top, there were some other bands that stood in the shadows, while releasing great albums, should have received more attention than what they got at the time. Viking is one of these bands.

The Californian metal maniacs started in 1986 and released two longplayers that got some spotlight. Although a moniker like ‘viking’ can give rookies the idea of being a viking metal band, these guys are in thrash metal. That they named the band Viking is more related to the Danish roots of the two Eriksen brothers, who started the outfit together with James Lareau and Matt Jordan.

‘Do or Die’ is the debut, that has originally been released in 1988 after having published a song called ‘Hellbound’ on the legendary ‘Metal Massacre VII’. ‘Do or Die’ shows the potential of the band although the sounds wasn’t the very best. The nine songs on the debut are a wild ride, showcasing a young band that unleashed all their energy though songs like the furious ‘Militia of Death’ and the brisky ‘Beserker’, nomen et omen with the latter. ‘Do or Die’ shows no mercy and at the same time presents the power of youth, guys that follows their passion without compromises.

Rating: 8 out of 10.

Tracklist:

  1. Warlord
  2. Hellbound
  3. Militia of Death
  4. Prelude / Scavenger
  5. Valhalla
  6. Burning from Within
  7. Berserker
  8. Killer Unleashed
  9. Do or Die

‘Do or Die’ was the foundation for Viking and a springboard for the sophomore release ‘Man of Straw‘. While maintaining the raw expression from the debut, things improved when it comes to songwriting and production. ‘Man of Straw’ sounds much better, more voluminous and differentiated compared to ‘Do or Die’. Viking reduced pace a bit and also added a few more technical aspects to their music, which made the album and its nine songs to a treat for metal fans. Tunes like the great ‘They Raped the Land’, the epic ‘Winter’ and the metalized Pat Benater cover ‘Hell miss For Children’ show the entire width of Viking in 1989. Unfortunately the thrash metal heydays were ebbing away towards the end of the decade. Viking’s end was around the same time when the band disbanded after having released these great two longplayers.

Viking is active again since 2011 and let’s see what the future will bring. These two records though will remain, being underground pearls in thrash metal, that will be re-issued by High Roller Records in various formats on April 30th, 2021.

Rating: 9 out of 10.

Tracklist:

  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

Label: High Roller Records

Genre: Thrash Metal

Release Date EU: April 30th, 2021

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