VELVET VIPER - NOTHING COMPARES TO METAL - MASSACRE
Velvet Viper is something of an anomaly. The band was first founded in 1990 as a follow-up to Zed Yago, but split up in 1993 with two albums under its belt. Cliche-wise, the act returned in 2017, but unlike the masses of returning musicians whose comeback is as productive as a class at Trump University this lot has released five albums and (unfortunately) even found time to release a self-cover version record. Still, heck of a productive record, pun intended, and the singer is 75 years old. Much more importantly than her age, is the style, sound and allegiance. The music is hard and heavy, vital and relevant and she, and the rest of the act, deliver. The record is longer with longer songs and is not ridden with the European rubbish imposter that stands in metal’s stead these days. This is not one of those wimpy albums with a Soprano in a corset and full body tattoo standing in front of a keyboard player with the cello player on the side. Maybe veterans know what is right and what is wrong and do not take the word ‘metal’ in vain.
The Germans got the title right. Did they get the music right to go with it then?
The title track goes first and the first impression is that the vocals’ metering needs some work. Moreover, it is not the best, or most eloquent English, to say “Earth go back,” but we get it. There was a time when metal was more dominant and more pure. Yet, a few listens more and the concern is not so much the phrasing and metre, but that the music and vocals do not seem on the same track production-wise. They seem separated as though they are not together, but sitting atop one another. Regardless, this song gets to you and grows on the listener. The heavy bass, wailing vocals and the multiple vocal channels - a general characteristic of the album - add up. Invisible Danger has laudable lyrics and a chorus like a catchy Accept song. Another good song on the album later, Sorcerer's Apprentice, also makes good use of the element of backing vocals later on the CD. It has chugging and is riff-oriented with the vocals more in tune with the music. Jutta herself for a moment makes a good impression of a wild cat. The seven-minute long Urd Wardande Skula begins with strumming reminiscent of Slayer’s Seasons In The Abyss and has a similarly slow and deliberate solo. Blood On The Moon goes tribal and comes across as a native American pow wow. Who knows? Not interested anyway. Speak Truth To Power is a good reminder of the band’s tightness, the vocalist Jutta’s energetic delivery and is a good, heavy and honest chugging metal song that becomes an even better track when it picks up the pace. Sorcerer's Apprentice is a cool and upbeat heavy metal song that delivers. It is heavy and catchy. The second half is like a Temtris track.
From here the album drifts into the format’s bonus territory with Heroic Hearts being a cool slow to mid-pace track that then goes speedy courtesy a sudden tempo change accompanied by a clever midsection bass. It is dense and intense. Some fabulous drumming can be heard in the background. The guitar staccato is heavy; the bass active and the solo melodic and soulful. Later on The 4Th Part is a weaker one and repetitious. New World Child is somewhat heavier, yet comes with a rhythm reminiscent of Queensryche’s Empire. Es Kommt Die Zeit is also a digipak bonus and sung in German. It has an I Mother Earth vibe so not ideal.
This is one of the records that could be admired for its overall nature, but the substance is as valid and true as the context. The album also grows on one. Stylistically, actually Hellion would not be an inappropriate comparison, but at this juncture more people probably know Velvet Viper than Hellion so how about comparing the style of the record to a mixture of Saxon, Rose Tattoo and Rage and add that this reptile has a metal bite that is missing from most of those European so-called metal bands whose Floridness is nothing short of offensiveness? - Ali “The Metallian”