Thursday, February 21, 2013

Viper - Coma Rage (1995)

This was kind of a bungled purchase by me. I had heard great things about Viper, whose vocalist was labelled as a "younger, more energetic Michael Kiske" and they were considered one of the early power metal bands.

So, I pounced on this album when I found it, bought it and brought it straight home and put it on.

And thought "What the?"

This is a punk album. Probably the only punk album in my collection. Certainly, the complex guitar rifts are still present but alas, Andre Matos (the vocalist) is not. He left before "Evolution"* leaving Pit Passerell to do the vocals for this one.

You might be suprised to find I kinda like this album, even if the original reaction was "this doesn't sound a thing like Helloween! Oh well, it's not half bad, actually."

For some inexplicable reason, my windows media player things it is "Angel's Fall First" by Nightwish. I have no idea why, I guess the metadata is just messed up.

Anyhow, the cover is kinda blah - a head, mostly in silhouette with a target directed at the forehead (like the ones you get with those scope rifles). It looks cheap. But the production of the album is actually pretty decent. The songs are really short too, so I'm gonna have to type real fast to summarise each one - or listen to them twice. Lyrics are kinda simple too.

We open with the rip-roaring "Coma Rage". A tumultuous and joyfully aggressive track. The drums race the guitars, whilst the Passerell bellows the lyrics:
"Coma rage gonna rise every day!"
Then it's time to chug and thrash "Straight Ahead", whilst the guitars churn their rhythms and Passerell shouts.

More churning and chugging and the shout of "GO" leads to racing drums, this time they're racing the vocals as we speed into a song about death, by drugs - "Somebody Told Me You're Dead". It seems oddly celebatory, but that might just be because it's so damned fast.

The next song is called "Makin' Love".
It starts with a spoken introduction:
"Hey Baby, wanna go out? Wanna go out Honey?"
(What's with calling the boyfriend "Daddy", that's just disturbing.)

Could it be a song about love? No wait, it's a song about STDs:
"Everybody around the world is getting sick, yeh. Makin' Love. Bad hearts bleeding!"
And another fast-paced, racin' punk song as we "BLAST!" into a riotous cacophany of tumbling instruments, with a surprising catchy chorus.

"God Machine" thrashes in at a more stolid pace. It's not nearly as frantic or riotous and is... anti-religion:
"I don't care what you believe if god machine can make me rich"
This evolution of Viper seem to be all about the negativity and the nihilism.

Another quicky, "Far and Near" has a relatively catchy, shouted chorus but doesn't really do too much for the imagination.

"The Last Song" offers something a little different. It starts slower, almost haunted, then the nihilism and anger floods in and engulfs it. The verses a slow, depressive, the choruses raucous and catchy.

Another rampant and angry, and rather masochistic song - "If I Die by Hate" proclaims:
"Will you forgive me? Bury me burn me alive. Enslave my brain. Blind my eyes, it's alright"
Another racin' punkish number with angry lyrics - "Day Before" is followed by the tribal sounding "405 South" which consists of nothing but drumming (on tribal-esque drums) with guitar whining over it.

"A Face on the Crowd" starts with slamming guitars and the bang-bang-bang of the drums. Vocals are distorted and somewhat interesting. Still angry, still violent. Nice bit of melody for one line of the bridge. Then it's thrash-bang into the shouted chorus.

Now for a song you'll all be familiar with - it's a cover of the "I Fought the Law". Which was not originally by The Clash, by the way. It's not a bad cover, and seems to have more energy and less anger than some of the other pieces.

And they saved the best til last - "Keep the Words" is an actual kinda ballad! Far more reminscent of the quality of "Evolution", although not quite on par as "Theatre of Fate." Pits actually has quite a sweet voice when he's singing, not shouting.
"I travel the world trying to get high. Now is the time to say 'Goodbye'."

Well, as far as punk/thrash metal goes, it's not bad. As far as Viper goes... it's weak compared to the power of "Theatre of Fate" and pales beside the thrash of "Evolution". This is more reminscient of the rather dull American thrash scene and lack in diversity and imagination.

So even though I said I kinda liked it - I'm still gonna only rate it 5.5/10. It's pretty average.
(I uped it by 1/2 a point for "Keep the Words")

* Hrm, I have "Evolution" on cassette, I shall have to compare it with "Theatre of Fate" (also on cassette), I haven't listened to it in a long time, and I didn't realise it didn't have Matos! I shall have to see if I can find them. I know where I used to keep them!

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