Power Metal from Sweden, the next one. And again I lost 60 per cent of all readers. But VIPERINE definitely are no HAMMERFALL copy, so come back right away! This quartet hails from the high north of Elk country, more precisely Kalix, where from some of you might know WINTERLONG and there are several parallels between these two bands. At first there were WINTERLONG, then they went through a severe shake-up in 2002 and singer Hussni Mörsare, bassist Erik Tornberg and drummer Tony Erkkilä moved out, forming VIPERINE.
Two years ago the guys were featured on a compilation of our colleagues of “Metal Rules“ and now, 2004, I have the debut “The Predator Awakens“ via Metal Rules Records right here. Now it is Power Metal, but as already mentioned, not the polished kind, here we get quite a bit more grit, no bombast whatsoever, deeply rooted in the Eighties VIPERINE celebrate a not even 40-minute long attack on the senses, led by a classical Kris Verwimp cover.
On the plus side we definitely have the tight drum work of Matt Buffalo (an extremely Swedish sounding name) and the very good guitar work of Payre Kankanranta, who has left the VIPERINE camp to pursue a different path with KARYAN, a Belgian Progressive Metal band from Liège. Not so positive is the a bit floppy snare sound and – the voice of Hussni Mörsare, but more on that soon.
"Like A Viper“ attacks you like one, with a riff thunderstorm and then double-bass thunder, plus a lead guitar that almost reminds me of CHILDREN OF BODOM, very tight and with quite aggressive/raw vocals, interesting beginning, nothing extraordinary, but with some good energy. Here the vocals of Hussni also work out pretty well, but quite soon it becomes pretty clear that he rather hinders the music of VIPERINE than helping it, because his voice simply sounds forced, reaching its limits and after a while it starts to get on your nerves.
This roughly translates onto big parts of the rest of the album as well, tight musicianship, shredding guitars, a lot of energy and, well, the voice. But it also works, as on “Fire, Wind And Rain“, where the vocals do not sound as forced and it fits a whole lot better right away. And VIPERINE neither step flat on the gas all the time either, but go back to mid-tempo every now and then, especially on the kind of MANOWAR-like “Reptiles“, where the vocals fit as well. Contrary on "Principles“, where Hussni partly sounds as if he will die any moment and even more so "Payback“, where he sounds so off and then extremely forced (especially in the chorus) that any positive impressions from the music are killed again.
So how do you rate a CD like this? I can live with the snare sound, the guitar work is great, just like the drum performance, the songs are not bad, even though rarely something special, the vocals really fall off, so how does the rating come together? Musicianship 8,5. Song writing 6,5. Vocals 4 = Overall rating 6 points. (Online February 12, 2005)