Here is something you don't find on Desert Psychlist everyday, a band carrying the tag "Viking metal" beneath their Bandcamp profile, we of course have nothing against "Viking metal", we get off on bands like Bathory and Amon Amarth as much as the next Berserker/Shield Maiden, its just that the album we are reviewing today doesn't quite fit snugly into that whole old gods, axe'n'riff thing, its less one-dimensional, far more diverse and whole lot more enjoyable. The album we are discussing here is "Secrets of the Cosmos" from a combo going by the name of Sins Of Magnus, Eric Early (bass/vocals); Rich Sutcliffe (guitar/vocals) and Sean Young (drums), a trio from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania who describe themselves as a sort of Black Sabbath/Motorhead hybrid with an obsession with all things Norse.
Don't go expecting long drawn out songs stretching well over the nine minute mark as that is just not what Sins Of Magnus are all about, this is a band who like to get their punches in quick and move on, six minutes equates to an epic in this bands book and their music is all the better for that. Things get off to a Sabbathian flavoured start with "Snakes", the songs catchy vocal melody bears a distinctive Ozzy like nasality, however the songs groove is more desert rock than it is proto-doom and is punctuated with passages of punk(ish) bluesy swagger. Title track "Secrets of the Cosmos" follows and apart from its grittier vocal and its "No Quarter" like finale it is hard to find anything Viking to report on, this is pure punk edged stoner rock jam packed with enough hooks to fill a cloakroom. And so it continues through the whole album, each song possessing its own individual merits, each heavy but never overpowering, each bearing a marked difference in attack from its neighbour. When the band do don their Norse armour, like on "Stoking The Flames" and "No Sanctuary" it is more in the vein of Led Zeppelin's "Immigrant Song" than it is say Amon Amarth's "Put Your Back Into The Oars" or Bathory's "Blood Fire Death", less abrasive metal more raw rock. The band even get a little alternative and quirky on "Mother Knows Best" (which features Pete Cortner on vocals), and go urban and hardcore on "Is Anybody There?" (featuring Sam Pinola), both tracks showing a level of diversity far removed from the Viking metal they seem to have found themselves associated with.
If you are looking to inflict a Blood Eagle on that annoying neighbour whose dog has deposited something nasty on your lawn, then maybe "Secrets Of The Cosmos" is not the soundtrack you are looking for. Sins Of Magnus may toy with Norse imagery but to tag them as Viking metal is kind of stretching things a little far, sure there are aspects of the metal sub-genre that can be found in their grooves but you can also find elements of hardcore punk, desert/stoner rock and Sabbath-esque proto-doom in what they bring to the table, a sound that is as raucously diverse as it is delightfully dangerous.
Check 'em out .....
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