Here’s a cool find that came out late last year on the Svart Records label. A five-piece from Sweden, Night Viper are determined to make their mark on the traditional metal genre with their self-titled debut. And I’ll be damned if they haven’t succeeded in a big way. Night Viper captures the urgency, the galloping griminess, and the raw energy of old-school heavy metal at its best. The lazy way to write the review would be to call Night Viper the Swedish counterpart to the Pacific Northwest’s Christian Mistress. And in truth, the comparison is not way off-base. Both bands are propelled by feverish twin guitars, an affinity for the likes of early Metallica, a fundamental gut-level understanding of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, a talented female vocalist, an obscure vibe, and a jamming street-level sweat’n’whiskey aesthetic that is immensely appealing. That said, the differences between Night Viper and Christian Mistress are plentiful. The Swedes have a fascination with lengthy doomy passages on multiple tracks (“Curse of a Thousand Deaths” and “Warrior Woman”). Paradoxically, Night Viper also worship at the altar of hammer-down speed glorious speed to a greater extent than Christian Mistress (see the title track, “Faces in the Mirror,” “Run for Cover” or “The Hammer”). And the vocalists really aren’t comparable at all, as Night Viper singer Sofie-Lee Johansson has a broader range and more of a traditional singing style than the raspy (but also awesome) Christine Davis of Christian Mistress. Despite these distinctions, it would not be a stretch to think that fans of one band are likely to gravitate to the other, as well.
Honestly, it’s a shame that the label chose to release Night Viper’s debut during the month of December, after the music industry is largely shuttered for the year and music consumers are distracted by visions of sugar plums, chestnuts roasting on an open fire, and a jolly old elf. I can see ‘Night Viper’ going over a storm with large swaths of the metal underground. The writing and performances are top-notch, the energy is undeniable, the hooks are masterful, and the attitude hits the mark every time. Indeed, the entire package is really impressive. Oh, and don’t let the doom reference scare you away. The two songs with pronounced doom tendencies don’t remain at a slumbering tempo for the entire time. They are longer tracks, sure, but both feature ample faster passages to go with the melancholy slow trudging parts. The dynamics of “Curse of a Thousand Deaths” and “Warrior Woman” actually strengthen the flow of the album and are immensely rewarding for those with the patience to hear them out. I’ll make it easy for you: Do you love old metal with killer riffs, buckets of speed and attitude? Then Night Viper might just become your new favorite band.
~ Review by Kit Ekman ~