VIRAL - Viral
February 19, 2021, a week ago
At the start of 2021, short of "Pandemic," can't think of a more timely moniker, under which, to launch a debut, even if the band has been around since '12. Be it an online reference, or related to disease, irony of ironies, the word Viral was selected by Swedes, a nation that opted to go against the grain, compared to the rest of the world, in handling Covid-19. So on to the music...
Nine, swift-moving tradition/NWOTHM leaning anthems, with a hoarse singer in the vein of (watch the ‘80s metal nerd cred) Nicky Moore (post-Bruce Dickinson voice of Samson) mixed with Axel Joseph Langemeijer (Bodine, the Dutch band which gave us guitarist Arjen "Ayreon" Lucassen). While offering tasty morsels, Viral are a little scattershot in delivering the menu, lacking any definitive sound. The initial half of the platter seems rooted in tradition, with higher register punctuation, while the back half increases the tempo into speed metal/proto-thrash (witness: "Mephorius"). Again, nothing wrong with music, just might be difficult to initially find/maintain an audience.
"Scarred" opens with a gallop and a few yelps/screams. "Going Down" is an ‘80s hard rock/early metal tune that solidifies the Moore/Samson comparison. Ditto bouncy "Machine" follow-up, apart from the high notes. "Gallows" is the only slo-mo moment within the nine cuts. Even though it ends with solo piano, it's not a ballad, nor one of the stronger inclusions. "Gonna Lose It" updates a simple, repetitive swing motif, featuring plenty of ride cymbal accents. "Viral" recalls Bodine. A chorus of "oh, oh" reappears throughout their speedy, fist-pumping eponymous signature tune. Nothing longer than the 6:10 "Selo's Tale", riding a blazing riff, start to languished bluesy guitar finish. "Devil's Clockwork" finale sort of breaks character. After a belabored intro, it's a screaming, wild man voiced speedster.