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A Concupiscently Sulphurous Pressure-Crooker - 91%

CHAIRTHROWER, November 13th, 2017
Written based on this version: 2015, CD, Svart Records (Digipak)

I’ve long had an affinity for Swedish traditional heavy metal as well as female fronted “occult” themed hard rock in all shapes and sizes so you can imagine how elated I was upon discovering Gothenburg’s Night Viper, which is slowly but surely seizing the metal World by crook and by hook - initially with a gobsmacking titular single in 2015 and an equally riveting, similarly titled full-length debut under Svart Records comprised of nine more or less fast-tempo tracks averaging just over four minutes each.

Oddly, the muffled bass heavy production gives the impression it was recorded live without overdubs; rather, it’s more like everyone’s giving ‘er all at once, be it Ruben Åhlander Persson’s rumbling and ruminating bass lines, meshed as they are with Jonna Karlsson’s organic albeit tumbling beats or the cranky but expedient guitar duo of Tom Sutton and Emil Ridderstolpe. For her part, front woman Sofie Lee Johanssen poignantly vamps her way through this old school heavy metal monstrosity with candid ardor and flair thanks to her husky flamethrower of a voice which evokes a modern day Jinx Dawson copiously tanked on absinthe and mescal. [Insert Swedish exclamation of your choice here!]

Although she definitely sounds crooning and tame on “Night Viper” proper and “Never Be Enslaved”, elsewhere she’s way more throaty and feral yet all-around her smoky extrapolations are effortlessly discernible. Personally, I love it when she goes buck at the beginning of “Faces In The Mirror” as she yells “Night Viper in the night!”; this is immediately followed by a super accelerated thrash riff which makes me feel like, heaven forbid, I’m flying through a windshield at mach speed while snarling my head off. How about on “Warrior Woman” when she liberally exclaims “Get pissed, take your rules and DIE!!!”? Her soulful inflections and breezy tone meld beautifully with the unorthodox yet hard-driving guitar riffs and swift melodic leads.

Worth mentioning is how the more endearing, gripping tracks are the ones between three and four minutes, especially the triplet based jangler “Run For Cover”, laden as it is with spectacular wah-infused solos and the immensely catchy “Dagger In Hand”. Both choruses constitute definite high points as they do a stellar job of impinging themselves on the psyche.

However, one track in particular - the longest of the bunch, mind - should have been omitted and that's "Curse of a Thousand Deaths", a seven minute long traffic jam whose initial pace and instrumentation are as stiff as a couple of cigar store Indians. Now, I can appreciate a long-winded epic like the next guy/gal but unlike the readily stimulating albeit also long-winded "Warrior Woman" – whose shorter meandering intro ratchets the tension level before duly taking off in classic, kick-ass Night Viper fashion - the former truly feels uncalled for and ill-placed; even saving it for last would have been for naught as it's simply too dull compared to the other tracks. It's actually a good thing it doesn't close shop because as it is, you won't find a better sonic throat-ripper/face mangler of a finale than the incredulously great, riff-tastic "The Wolverine". Assuredly, this one, with its fiercely driven and downright inflammatory guitars intermingled as they are with Johanssen’s predatory excoriations and all-around battery-ram action literally usurps Marvel's iconic action hero as far as zestful flair and fatal attraction goes. Furious tempo aside, dig its outright vicissitude and menacing "get the fuck out of my way"-ism compounded by team Sutton/Riddelstope's most ravenous and twisted slew of seat-of-your-pants burning leads. Excuse me for sounding like a brat who just won an all-day pass for Circus Circus but really, it's that freaking awesome!

Aside from the above mentioned flop every track furiously rips & grips, making this release a must-have for any self-respecting rivet head regardless of preferred genre or epoch. The title track's single is also commendable as not only is its production crisp and clear but also features an equally commendable bonus track, "Chainbreaker", as the B-side. Obviously, the new release, Exterminator, released last month under Listenable records is yet further cause for unbridled joy and revelry.

Don’t think twice - conjure the Night Viper!