For any fan of Viking Metal who has ever thought that the music was becoming a bit more elaborate than anything ever contemplated by warriors whose chief motivation was plunder, this release is for you.
NO REMORSE NO RETREAT play a no-frills Metal that would have felt at home in any biker bar in the 1980's. Simple power chords and uncomplicated arrangements rule here. Opening track “Victory Or Valhalla” sets the tone with a Rock & Roll approach and vocals that remind the listener of a young Joe Strummer. The next track, “Invade,” continues in this vein, presenting a sound that flirts with melodic Punk.
The reminder of the album, with one exception, inhabits the gray area between 1980's Hard Rock and Heavy Metal, occasionally colling to mind the likes of KISS. The music rocks, but never gets so heavy that it crosses into more punishing territory.
The standout track on this album is the one that is musically most out of place. “Pride” is a Folk / Hard Rock tune that incorporates heavy use of traditional instruments like flute and fiddle. The percussion relies on the use of bass and snare, so the sound never becomes overpowering. Similarly, there is guitar on the song, but it is pushed way into the back of the mix, so much so as to be discernible only on close listen. Its use here seems to be to add a fuller sound to the lead instruments. Harmony vocals on the chorus gives this song an even more folky feel to it.
Perhaps the slight disappointment with this album has more to do with genre conventions than flawed execution. As mentioned, this is uncomplicated music, and the earlier comparison to Biker Rock could have been one that the band intended for its listeners. Oftentimes here the lyrics are unspecific enough that they could be applied to either a Viking or a Biker ethos. Viewing “To Glory We Ride” as Viking Metal, however, the listener soon becomes aware of, and then frustrated with, the lack of grandiosity. Like it or not, Viking Metal was pioneered by the likes of BATHORY and ENSLAVED, and expectations have been established that are not easily discarded.
Still, this is a unique take on the genre, and is worth checking out, if for no other reason than curiosity.
(Online April 10, 2009)