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As pizza is to thrash, mead is to viking metal - 40%

Derigin, June 17th, 2018

Space Vikings. The name of this band alone harbours a sensible chuckle, for you know - whether intended or not - it's damn near impossible to take a band with this name seriously. In spite of the humour that's an obvious part of the band's character, you can't help but groan at the reality of this band and its many tropes and clich├ęs. Based in Athens in the US state of Georgia, far and away from the sea, let alone the mountains that have defined viking culture and society for generations, Space Vikings sing of battle, beer, mead, grilling (???) and drunken space flight... all wonderfully jovial. And, like pizza is to thrash metal, mead is to viking metal. You can imagine what this means for this album's music.

Unsurprisingly, and to no shock to anyone, Glorious Victory is not so much a victory for the band, and is hardly glorious as far as music goes. As a debut you expect some issues as a band is developing its own style, and band members become accustomed to creating material with one another. You get a sense that while the band members have a history with one another, and that at least seems to be the case with the guitarists and the drummer, it's very clear that it's a band trying too hard to impress on its first release. On the whole, the album feels relatively mediocre and hollow. It doesn't help that the main motif driving the lyrical content is corny and juvenile - Vikings... in Space! - and it follows that the music is equally corny and juvenile. Not like anyone would expect it, but don't expect anything deep and meaningful. Which, honestly, is a bit of a shame. Viking metal thrives on its storytelling, and to see it denigrated to a humorous trope is personally disheartening. Yet, that's the nature of this band, among others. A trope.

The music is unremarkable. Unfortunately, Glorious Victory really shows its amateur nature. As far as its production, it's not too bad. Clean, though perhaps a bit overly sanitized and commercial, the sound is at least fairly clear and consistent throughout the album. I can't say the same about the mixing. Vocals are at a level much too high, and the way the album utilizes samples - mostly awful, fake-sounding keyboards and choruses - is a complete mess. All the songs on the album have the same structure, relatively the same rhythm, and also have instrumentation better suited to Rock Band and DragonForce than to anything else. In breaking down the tracks specifically, all tracks have the same fast-paced, melodic viking style of metal that's admittedly closer to the softer side of metal. If you're expecting something more extreme, this is not the band for it. In fact, the three tracks that stood out, "Battle of the Mead Hall," "Odin's Nebula," and "Among the Stars" did so, not because they're necessarily good, but because they rely so heavily on keyboard, chorus and violin samples that dominate the tracks and make them even softer than necessary. I do understand what the band is trying to do. The "spacey" feel for the band is not in its use of any form of "alien sound" samples, or even any influences from a "space" genre, but from the use of keyboard samples that feel like they would fit the 'Cat on a Keyboard in Space' meme. Does that make sense? I hope you get where I'm coming from here.

That said, since I've spoken of the bad - or at least the mediocre and amateur - is there anything good about the music? Well, fortunately there is. The guitar-work is not mind-blowing, and they're not the most talented, but the guitar players have skill and it shows. There's a few times, mainly on "Be a Viking," "The Will of Men" and "Odin's Nebula," where the guitarists are given a chance to do solos, and those solos are easily the highlights of the album for me; they aren't spectacular or even really special, but they're also not bad, if but a bit noodley. Where the band needs particular improvement, and I hope to see in future releases, is with the vocalist. One issue is with the mixing; with the vocals set so loudly in front of all the other instruments, you can hear everything down to the saliva gathering in his mouth. This makes the vocals slobbery, which for someone who sings harsh vocals from the throat, drives attention away from the rest of the music. On top of a lack in vocal range, it makes the vocalist sound wet, if not a bit grody. The backing vocals, as heard in "The Will of Men," also suffer, although, in this case, it's not for the lack of range, so much as screaming better suited for a kid going through puberty. Not to say that the backing vocalist was a kid, or was going through puberty at the time this album was made, but maybe being a vocalist is not what he's best suited to do.

Overall, this wasn't a very good debut album. At the same time, with a few exceptions, it wasn't atrocious, either. If anything, it was just mostly bland. I do wonder what to look forward to as I continue to experience this band's discography. I must admit I don't expect much, just more of the same presumably. Unless you're into bands that sound like they belong on Rock Band, or a band that is the pizza thrash equivalent of viking metal, then I'm doubtful you will find much value in this band. Suffice it to say, you may not be disappointed if you're just looking for a mediocre, ridiculous time. It's not for me, though.

Completely unrelated to this review, it's hard not to notice that all the members of this album's lineup have -tt ending their first names. Matt, Matt, Scott, Matt, Brett. If you're a Matt, maybe you should consider auditioning for this band. Statistically, you can't lose.