The Littlest Viking – The Littlest Viking – 88%

the Littlest Viking cover art

Southern California’s The Littlest Viking return with the self-titled follow up to their 2009 debut, “Labor & Lust”, and pick up right where they left off, showcasing the super guitar work of Ruben Cortez and Christopher Gregory’s speedy, complex drumming. The duo hasn’t slowed a bit in these 3+ years, kicking things off with the aptly titled “Give Me Motorhead”. The driving rhythm and thrashy, d-beat guitar riffs are a great wake up call, one that crashes headfirst into the fun, dancy “Slap Bracelet Wounds”. This track has a very late 90s/early 2000s DC feel to me, calling to mind bands like Q and Not U and The Dismemberment Plan (the latter especially in the final minute of the track). I’m certainly not saying this is a bad thing, in fact, I think it’s one of the things that really sets The Littlest Viking apart from so many of their math-rock peers. These post-hardcore influences pop up elsewhere on the album, most notably in some of the tracks that feature vocals, like “Picadilly Palare is a Real Boner Drag”, “Puppies Forever”, and “Mary-Louise Parker Has AIDS.. A Lot”. The last of those three features a nice juxtaposition in vocal styles, bouncing back and forth from a more chaotic, yelled vocal style to a clean, duet style featuring accompanying female vocalist Denise Mutuc.

“Return of the Mack (Redux)” is my favorite track on the album, starting out with a quiet, fuzzy, almost shoegaze feel, which leads up to a great mix of math and post-hardcore, and the best usage of vocals on the album. I’m not just saying that I like it because of the nod to Mark Morrison, either. Things get a little thrashy again on “I Hope There’s a Glory Hole in Hell”, a rowdy track that stops rather abruptly, as if it didn’t want to crash into the bouncy, dance party feeling of the following track, “My Little Brony”. Gregory’s drumming really stands out to me on this track, not because of any one moment, but throughout the course of the song, he really shows what he can do, and does it well. Too often people think that faster drumming equals drumming, not realizing the skill it takes to pull off some of these time and rhythm changes. “Free Metal Pat” closes things out, and does so wonderfully. The gang vocals layered over the reverb heavy guitars that bring the track to an end are really well done, and leave you looking forward to what these guys will pull off next.

That said, one of the downfalls of this album to me is that you’re left wondering what these guys could pull off. It seems like they haven’t yet really hit their full potential, and the flashes of that here left me wanting more. It’s a very solid release, though, and hopefully we won’t have to wait another 3 years to see how the band progresses further.

Grab the MP3s for $10 from the Mountain Man Records bandcamp – http://mountainmanrecords.bandcamp.com/album/the-littlest-viking-2

Vinyl (including digital download) is $11 from Mountain Man Records – http://store.mountainmanrecords.com/product/the-littlest-viking-s-t-12-lp-pre-oreder