This is what happens when a hell of a storyteller writes some loud, raw, catchy-as-fuck songs, and plays them with his boys. It’s a personal, musical middle-fingerprint, showing up every bitch band on Clear Channel’s homogenized playlist. And if you don’t mind a little punk rock in your diet, it’s a good goddamn time.
Viking (Epitaph/Hellcat Records) is the 150 MPH return of Rancid guitarist Lars Frederiksen and his beautiful, badass Bastards. And for 40 minutes of your day, they’ll take you by your hair and drag you through every road they’ve traveled and every path they’ve crossed.
The album revs up and takes off with the appropriately titled theme song, "Bastards", announcing their triumphant, hide-your-daughters return. Once you’ve been re-introduced, you’re along for an awesome ride, with a few notable stops: a tribute to personal weaponry with The Transplants' skinhead, Rob ("Switchblade"); two killer cover tunes, resurrected Bastard-style (The Blasters' "Marie Marie" and Anti-Nowhere League’s "For You"); and a couple of wartime gripes ("Blind Ambition" and "Gods Of War").
But what makes me hold Lars and the Bastards in such high regard is encompassed in two of the best and most unique sounding tunes on the record-- the got-no-qualms declaration "My Life To Live" (with Tim Armstrong), and the peaceful, autobiographical album closer "The Viking". Amidst all the aggressive, street-tough anthems come two tunes that showcase a down-to-earth openness rare in most musical storytelling. Whether they’re making no apologies for who they are ("My Life To Live"), or telling you what made them that way ("The Viking"), mistakes and all, you can’t help but walk away feeling like you just shot the shit with a couple of close friends.