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VIKING - MAN OF STRAW (CD, 2024, Brutal Planet) *Must-have 80's THRASH/SPEED Metal!

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****RELEASE DATE:  AUGUST 9, 2024

VIKING - Man of Straw (CD Reissue)

Label: Brutal Planet Records
Series: Metal Icon Series
Remastered By: Rob Colwell
Format: Jewel Case, 12-Panel Booklet
Tracks: 9 Original Tracks
Product IDBPCD1652
UPC: 637405148787

Band Lineup:

  • Ron Daniel: Vocals
  • Brett Eriksen: Guitar
  • James Lareau: Bass
  • Matt Jordan: Drums

KEY SELLING POINTS

  • Limited to just 500 CDs!
  • Originally released 1988, Metal Blade Records
  • Officially licensed 
  • 12-page booklets with band pics/lyrics, jewel case
  • Remastered by Rob Cowell (Coroner, Sacrifice, Believer, Nevermore)
  • Metal cover of Pat Benatar's classic hit "Hell Is For Children" featuring guest vocals by Ron Rhinehart (Dark Angel)
  • Brett Eriksen, the guitarist for VIKING, went on to join Dark Angel.
  • After VIKING disbanded, drummer Gene Hoglan, who had a brief stint with VIKING, became a highly sought-after drummer and played with numerous bands, including Dark Angel, Death, Strapping Young Lad, Testament, and Dethklok.

Band Lineup:
Ron Daniel: Vocals
Brett Eriksen: Guitar
James Lareau: Bass
Gene Hoglan: Drums

ABOUT THE ALBUM

History:
Released in 1989, "Man of Straw" is VIKING's second album and represents a significant evolution in their sound and lyrical themes. This album showcased a more mature and polished sound compared to their debut, with complex song structures and improved production. The lineup featured the addition of renowned drummer Gene Hoglan, known for his work with Dark Angel and later Death and Strapping Young Lad, which brought a new level of technical proficiency to the band. Brett Eriksen, guitarist of VIKING went on to join thrash legends, Dark Angel (1991, Time Does Not Heal), further cementing their impact on the genre.

Remastering:
This edition of "Man of Straw" has been meticulously remastered by Rob Colwell to enhance the album's sonic quality while preserving its original intensity. The result is a powerful listening experience that remains true to VIKING's initial vision.

Packaging:
The reissue features a 12-panel booklet filled with band photos, lyrics, and liner notes that provide a deeper insight into the band's evolution and the making of "Man of Straw," housed in a jewel case for both longtime fans and new listeners to fully appreciate the album's legacy.

Legacy:
"Man of Straw" remains a pivotal album in VIKING's discography and the broader thrash metal scene. During the creation of this album, vocalist Ron Daniel experienced a significant personal transformation, embracing Christianity. This change is particularly evident on the track "The Trial," where the lyrics explore themes of judgment, morality, and redemption from a Christian perspective. Daniel's journey eventually led him to become a Christian minister, marking a unique chapter in the band's history.

"Man of Straw" stands alongside works from contemporaries such as Dark Angel, Hirax, and Sacred Reich, showcasing VIKING's technical prowess and thematic depth. This reissue not only honors the original release but also celebrates the enduring legacy of VIKING, ensuring that their music continues to resonate with fans old and new. Absolutely essential thrash metal for any serious or casual collector.  Man of Straw is THAT good in every possible way!


TRACK LISTING
1.       White Death    5:21
2        They Raped The Land    6:20
3        Twilight Fate    3:37
4        The Trial    3:39
5        Case Of The Stubborns    4:35
6        Winter    7:44
7        Hell Is For Children Featuring – Ron Rinehart (Dark Angel) 4:11
8        Creative Divorce    6:23
9        Man Of Straw    3:47

    White Death/They Raped The Land/Twilight Fate/The Trial/Case Of The Stubborns/Winter/Hell Is For Children/Creative Divorce/Man Of Straw


    METAL ARCHIVES REVIEW

    The Wicker Man, the Ultimate Children’s Nightmare - 95%

     bayern, May 25th, 2017

    When I got a hold of this album some time in the late-90’s, I had no idea that this act were actually in a pristine, rough-around-the-edges “do or die” situation on their debut a year earlier. Not that it mattered that much as this piece of metal remains one of the highlights on the whole US scene, a primal slab of stupendous, ass kicking rifforamas that only trve Viking descendants were capable of producing. This effort takes a nice central role in the thrash metal kaleidoscope, between the aggressive bashing of Slayer, Dark Angel and Morbid Saint, and the technical/progressive excursions that started becoming prevalent in the late-80’s thanks to acts like Realm, Toxik, Watchtower, and Blind Illusion. This mediator’s stance was another voluminous pool also occupied by Wargasm, Vio-Lence, Wrath, Mordred, early Flotsam & Jetsam, and the debuts of Death Angel, Heathen and Forbidden. These artists borrowed from both sides, more readily from the latter, with some eventually ending up on the more proficient, more complex side of the spectre.

    Not our valiant Vikings here, though, who didn’t have the time for that, or rather didn’t want to see themselves tempted by the oncoming new trends by stepping into the 90’s. So this piece of unadulterated classic thrash remained their last recording for a very long period of time. It’s a great testimony of the band’s skills, and “White Death”, with its officiant stomping rhythms, already forebodes great things to come before impetuous gallops take over later turning into a furious ball of speed catapulted with the utmost intensity into the relentless melee which also features a brilliant melodic lead section. Thrashing madness at its uncompromising best proceeding with “They Raped the Land”, a more intricately woven number with a wider array of tempo changes recalling their neighbours from the Bay-Area, Ron Eriksen’s attached semi-clean/semi-shouty vocals making a very positive impression assisting the fast-paced “skirmishes” with panache. “Twilight Fate” is a short, more immediate thrasher the guys raging with all the anger they can summon still finding time for a few smattering tempo shifts. “The Trial” follows the same pattern, less bridled thrashing with perennially speedy crescendos and piercing, screamy leads with which ends the more bashing side of the album.

    “Case of the Stubborns” complicates the environment with superb more intricate arrangements without losing the primal energy, a flawless riff-fest with a pleiad of guitar configurations which stop the listener’s pummelling with a cool stomping passage before the rousing technical, also drum-infused, finale. “Winter” is the “coldest” song here, and it takes time for it to pick up speed and inertia although the pounding riffage that occupies the first half is perfectly acceptable; expect headbanging delights later as the guys embark on a speedy “conquest” their stride intercepted by more pounding officiancy which is smitten by the hyper-active epitaph, some of the most compulsively headbangable cannonades this side of Wargasm’s “Why Play Around” and Vio-Lence’s “Eternal Nightmare”. Soft friendly riffs follow; what’s the story? The story may not be familiar to all metal heads as this is a cover of the 80’s rock goddess Pat Benatar’s “Hell is for Children”, a surprisingly faithful rendition with even Eriksen acquiring much cleaner notes to match the frolic aura of this evergreen. One may not be sure what to make of this unexpected turn of events, but once “Creative Divorce” hits the speakers, the fan will fall into spasmodic mosh; this is intense shredding at its most cutting and spinning the obligatory slower mid-break just a short respite in these exhausting 6.5-min of hard, no-bars-held thrashing. The title-track comes next to wrap on this meisterwerk with another portion of aggressive remorseless strokes, the band relaxing for a short bit with a momentary laid-back relapse only to increase the intensity to nearly proto-deathy proportions as a finishing touch.

    Immaculate riff-fests of the kind were not a rarity at that time with a lot of practitioners trying to impress the audience before the end of the decade due to the uncertainty settling in the air regarding the future of the scene. And yet, this opus stands out well more determinedly than a straw in the wind, the epitome of the thrash metal movement in all its non-contaminated glory, one of the Big Four of this middle ground alongside the already mentioned Wargasm and Vio-Lence albums, and Torture’s “Storm Alert”. It’s great to trace the Viking connection on American soil all the way to our favourite metal, and see that’s it’s nothing short of outstanding. This connection didn’t last very long, though, as this was the last album the guys produced before a gigantic hiatus. The guitar player Brett Eriksen joined his colleagues from Dark Angel for the creation of the 246-riff “monster” “Time Does Not Heal” while the others focused on their born-again Christian status, and abandoned the battle… sorry, metal field.

    Another Viking invasion in the new millennium bore “No Child Left Behind”, a great return for the horde on the arena with Eriksen’s siren leading the pack, the other original member Matt Jordan behind the drumkit. A classic thrash marvel, this new instalment sees them not having lost even a small bit from their musical prowess of old, joining the fray of those veterans who managed to come back with flying colours. The Viking ship continues sailing; what other shores it’ll reach in the future, that no one can foresee, but there will by all means be other wicker men going up in flames...