Armored Dawn – Viking Zombie [Deluxe Edition] (Album Review)

Armored Dawn - Viking Zombie

Armored Dawn – Viking Zombie (Deluxe Edition)
Released: January 28, 2020

Line Up

Eduardo Parras – vocals
Timo Kaarkoski – guitar
Heros Trench – bass
Tiago de Mouro – guitar
Rodrigo Oliveira – drums
Rafael Agostino – keyboard

There is a refrain during Armored Dawn’s third album where vocalist Eduardo Parras declares “I am a riot”. The Brazilian power metal quintet are the embodiment of that attitude: Viking Zombie is an absolute riot. Armored Dawn tick all the genre boxes: soaring vocals, lyrical themes of vikings, warriors, lost love and plenty of animalistic metaphors, fiddly guitar solos and a powerhouse rhythm section. So what separates them from their peers? It is a sense of joy, largely from the amazing keys and synths, that emboldens each track with big hooks and reveals their influences lay less in earlier power metal bands and more in the forefathers: Dio, UFO, Deep Purple and virtuoso guitarists such as Joe Satriani and Dave Gilmore. The end result is a serious metal album that works equally as a thunderous party starter. The album tells the tale of two northern warriors, Bálder and Sigrid, who wage war alongside their friends and become committed life mates. Musically, the album contains all the drama one would expect from a story of love and war.

Armored Dawn are more than capable of inspiring listeners to put their fist in the sky and they really nail the inspiring nature of power metal. The raging opener ‘Ragnarok’ kicks off with thunder and storms before Parras shouts out “my friend. My brother. Till Ragnarok.” The deluxe edition features an acoustic rendition that takes it from festival cannon fodder to campfire singalong, losing none of its flamboyant nature. ‘Animal Uncaged’ is another cracking track, an anthem for the downtrodden looking for a chance to make good and lead others by example. The riff has some real bounce too, mosh pits much love it. The deluxe edition actually closes with a live take that demonstrates the power this song can have over an audience. ‘Fire in Flames’ actually ups the ante with some thrash level guitar work and tight drumming. Lyrically he’s feeling trapped by Odin and a three eyed crow guides him so it’s both wonderfully Norse AND George RR Martin. Probably don’t play it when you’re driving, the police might be on your tail if you try to keep pace with the tempo.

Of course, rocking out is essential but the band also takes time to build the atmosphere. The title track takes a turn towards the epic, with some amazing keyboard work really setting the stage for the huge melodic chorus, complete with backing vocals. That the lyrics combine both zombies and Vikings is an achievement that shouldn’t be understated. The genre would benefit from more cross over between horror villains and historical figures. ‘Drowning’ is another big moment, a slower paced power ballad with some awesome guitar work and a huge hook. It’s all set to be a crowd favourite, as they collectively pine for lost love. Striking stuff, if a little on the Eurovision side performance-wise (I am an unashamed fan of Eurovision so mean this as a compliment.)

‘Eyes of the Wolves’ is a mid-tempo epic too, a powerful rocker assisted by precise double kick by Rodrigo Oliveira. ‘Face to Face’ and ‘Blood on Blood’ both go harder with some pretty cool keys adding some ear candy to the riffs. ‘Heads are Rolling’ uses electronic bleeps to set up the power chords of doom, transporting Armored Dawn into the 2010s with a sound that could grab the ears of the most devoted metalcore fan. They’re totally comfortable here too, with the death growl backing vocals adding some real grunt without sacrificing melody. The solo just tops it off.

‘Embrace the Silence’ has the keys mimic a string section, really helping the melodic verses feel immense and orchestral. It’s probably the most cheesy song of the album (and that’s saying something) but is delivered with the sort of conviction that makes you believe in them. ‘Rain on Fire’ turns them towards the demonic, with guttural vocals and a death metal style riff. It’s quite different to the first half of the album, showing an ability to branch out from their core sound. The chorus is pretty sick too, with a great key chance in the bridge and some killer fretwork. The deluxe edition now closes out with ‘Skydiver of the Light’, a song that sticks to a more traditional metal sound, but includes a lot of the sounds explored elsewhere on Zombie Viking. The keys again add an orchestral effect and there’s the growling backing vocals. Actually there’s a bridge that goes full death metal before leading into a solo that twists and turns with tapping and whammy bar galore. It will make you raise your goblet to the heavens.

Armored Dawn have been at it a little while now and Zombie Viking is the breakthrough they deserve. It really is a blast for start to end. Far from a straightforward forward power metal album, their ability to include both classic and modern influences is tremendous. If you’re having a shitty day this might just be the album to put on and turn it around. The two extra tracks on the deluxe edition showcase their unplugged and live abilities and they’d be a great band to catch on tour or at a festival should you get the chance.

Armored Dawn - Viking Zombie

Armored Dawn – Viking Zombie tracklisting

  1. Ragnarok
  2. Animal Uncaged
  3. Zombie Viking
  4. Fire And Flames
  5. The Eyes Of The Wolves
  6. Face To Face
  7. Drowning
  8. Heads Are Rolling
  9. Blood On Blood
  10. Embrace The Silence
  11. Rain Of Fire
  12. Skydiver of the Light
  13. Ragnarok (Unplugged)
  14. Animal Uncaged (Live)

Rating: 7/10
Viking Zombie (Deluxe Edition) is out now.
Review By – KJ Draven. Instagram: @kjdraven

Get to know the band via our chat with guitarist Timo Kaarkoski right here

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