Bloodshed Walhalla - 'Legends Of A Viking'

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Bloodshed Walhalla - 'Legends Of A Viking'

An interesting and confident statement that is for the most part an engaging listen.

Bloodshed Walhalla is a solo project from an Italian multi-instrumentalist simply called Drakhen, who has, after two reasonably successful demo releases, finally released his first full album 'Legends Of The Viking'. The blurb that arrived with this disc proclaims these songs to be "Viking Metal", which for the uninitiated would appear to mean that 'Legends Of The Viking' sounds like it was forged somewhere between Manowar and Bathory and that the lyrics concern themselves with all things Nordic, whether that be legendary tales, the God of Thunder (Thor, not Gene Simmons!) or valiant deaths during epic battles. Quite what caused an Italian to have such a Viking fixation I'm not sure, but the end result is a reasonably convincing set of chest beating anthems which are heavy on bombast, but thankfully come without a side helping of cheese.

Drakhen himself shows true skill in handling all the instruments on this album, and whether it is the solid and at times impressive guitar work, the throbbing bass lines, or the tempestuously thunderous beats, he puts in fine performances. Vocally things are also pretty steady, however the gruff Joey DeMaio rasp that Drakhen rather sedately delivers would definitely benefit from either a more aggressive, or higher registered counterpoint to really drive home the hoarse rasp that does in fairness work well in this setting. The album itself is made up of only six tracks with all bar one arriving at over six minutes, with two of those longer songs straying into "epic" territory as they stretch out to around the twelve minute mark. If there is a real weakness on this album, it is that the longer songs don't quite have enough twists and turns to truly merit their duration, and while the howling winds, acoustic interludes and more strident passages do knit neatly together, there are seldom any surprises lurking in the shadows to really grasp your attention. Of the shorter numbers 'Born In Fire' is just about the standout moment, with a tougher, more in your face riff carrying Drakhen's strongest vocal of the album where he sounds more like a lower register King Diamond, which serves the mythical themes extremely well. That said though the galloping double kick drums and the faint waft of something ever so slightly more extreme metal may prove to be a stumbling block for some, although it is all presented with bags of melody to keep everything in check.

'Legends Of The Viking' isn't liable to go down in metal history as a classic debut effort, but it does make an interesting and confident statement that is for the most part an engaging listen. With slightly stronger and shorter songs and a secondary vocalist, album number two may well be a different proposition altogether.

Steven Reid

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