EP Review: Luke Appleton – Forever Viking

He may have shorn his locks, but multi-talented musician Luke Appleton shows no loss of strength with his latest EP, Forever Viking. Absolva’s rhythm guitarist, member of the Blaze Bayley band and over a decade in Iced Earth, Appleton has returned with a solid four-track release that those who saw him support Fury on their UK jaunt last year may already have partially heard.

With two solo releases already behind him, solo acoustic EP How Does It Feel To Be Alive (2018) and full-length record Snake Eyes (2019), the time seems right for Appleton to return with another selection of new music.

Written in 2022 and the early part of this year, Appleton is not short of support. Alongside him, is former Babylon Fire guitarist Rishi Mehta, whilst Dakesis drummer Adam Harris adds his skills behind the kit. Appleton covers the vocals, bass and rhythm guitar work.

Full of melody, but retaining a steely edge, the EP starts with lead single “Before Your Eyes”. There’s a sweet level of melodic rock captured in this track, which is sure to appeal to a wide range of metal fans. It’s got a huge chorus which should become an earworm. There’s a bit more fire to “A Thing Called Fate” which features some thunderous bass as well as fiery lead work from Mehta. A real hard rocker, it’s a worthy addition.

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Further riffs are welcomed on third track “What Heroes Do”, a smouldering, brooding song that drops the pace and sees Becky Baldwin add backing vocals to great effect. You can see the formula that Appleton uses in his song writing, set in the classic metal tradition. Clean, harmonies and melodic parts are all welcomed with open arms. This leads to the title and final track “Forever Vikings”. Dedicated to a fallen friend, Wayne Turnbull, it’s an emotionally charged six-minute song that clearly comes from the heart. Appleton explains:

Wayne was such a wonderful human being, and I couldn’t help but feel that he was stolen from us all! I sat down one day with a song that was mostly finished apart from the lyrics. Suddenly I had this strange feeling, and it was as if the lyrics had written themselves – the title Forever Viking was born. People that knew Wayne will be aware he was always referred to as ’The Viking’ as he was a mountain of a man, yet as mean and strong as he looked, he had the purest of hearts and a loving soul! This one is for you, my friend!

It’s an emotional ending to an EP that benefits from repeat plays to absorb the overall quality. Sure, it’s not dream Theater, but it certainly stands up well. If you enjoy solid hard rock and traditional heavy metal, then Forever Viking is one worth adding to your list.

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Forever Viking is out on April 14th

Check out all the bands we review in 2023 on our Spotify and YouTube playlists!

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