Viking Skull (part time Raging Speedhorn, part time road crew) unleashed their debut full length of traditional heavy metal a few weeks ago and have hit the road already. We went to check them out at the Cathouse on Fri 2nd Dec 2005.
If you're a fan of heavy music then there are few better ways to spend a Friday night than in the Glasgow Cathouse rocking out to those lovers of all things heavy Viking Skull. Sadly though, there don't seem to be many like minded metal heads out tonight and it really is criminal that there aren't more people here to enjoy this riff-a-thon.
As the Grindaar team enter the Cathouse at 7:30 (the doors opened at 7) there is a band already on stage who, judging by their accents between songs, are local and in the unfair space of two songs do little to impress or even make me wish to go to the effort to find out who they are. I don't like to dump on a new band that are learning their trade, but everything about them reeks of amateurishness and on this evidence they have a lot of learning to do.
Conversely, the 2nd support act of the night, McQueen look to be confident and completely at ease on stage, no doubt gaining from the experience of 4 recent UK Tour support slots. In fact, it's fair to say that before they even take to the stage there is a buzz of anticipation from some male quarters thanks to their most recent support slot with the Mad Capsule Markets. When 4 young females take to the stage you begin to understand why there were some interested guys in the place. All four seem competent enough and can rock, especially drummer Hayley Cramer but it's lead singer Leah Duors that seems to captivate the attention and that's a good quality to have in a front woman. My only criticism of McQueen is that you just get the impression that they haven't quite decided yet which style they intend to base their future on. There's good old fashioned heavy rock songs and there's some more metal moments. Personally I think they're better at the heavy rock thing but make no mistake, there's plenty of promise here.
As Viking Skull take to the stage in pretty much no time at all it's pretty clear just from looking at their attire what kind of night we are in for. Lead guitarist Darren Smith sports an Iron Maiden Live After Death sleeveless T-Shirt, Bassist Kevin Waldie is decked out in a denim waistcoat complete with huge AC/DC patch on the back and vocalist/guitarist Roddy Stone has his six-string hung over him with a studded guitar strap. Yes ladies and gentlemen, we're in for some heavy metal, the old school way! And that old school metal takes the form of some bludgeoning Black Sabbath style riffs and some AC/DC style rawking mixed in with vocals from a guy that sounds like he smokes 200-a-day!
Among the set highlights are Born In Hell, the title track from their first full length album, which kicks off proceedings in terrific style, Red Hot Woman (which is dedicated to McQueen) and Crank The Volume during which drummer Gordon Morison really get into it and pounds those drums like his life depends on it. Beer, Drugs & Bitches and Skull Heaven bring things to a satisfactory and spectacular close - Roddy Stone indulging in a spot of home made pyromania, taking an electric saw to his guitar and directing the sparks in the direction of his bandmates before wrapping his mic chord around Smith's throat...
It's a fantastic set, the band play it like they mean it and everyone with metal in their veins should be here tonight, but if I had to pick one fault it's that the set needed to be about 30 mins longer. When the doors open at 7 and the 3rd and final band leave the stage at 9:20 you know it's been a short set. I know the Skull don't have a huge back catalogue to pick from but surely we could manage a bit more than this?
Moaning aside, at a time of the year when many will be heading for nights out in the city with their work colleagues, I'm a happy man having been in the newly (and impressive looking) refurbished Cathouse and treated to a metal masterclass. It's like nu-metal and emo never happened.