"Man of Straw" is the 2nd full-length studio album by US, Los Angeles based thrash metal act Viking. The album was released through Metal Blade Records in July 1989. Viking was a relatively shortlived act who only released two albums in the late eighties before they disbanded.
The band´s debut album "Do or Die (1988)", was a pretty raw and aggressive thrash metal release packed in a murky sound production. Compared to that "Man of Straw" is a much more sophisticated effort by Viking. The band are still very aggressive when that is needed, but they often steer into more technical thrash metal territories and "Man of Straw" is therefore a much more varied album than the debut. The inclusion of the Pat Benatar cover "Hell is for Children" even shows that Viking are fully capable of playing more straight traditional heavy rock/metal. Especially lead vocalist/guitarist Ron Eriksen shines on that track. The material are generally catchy and memorable beyond a few listens.
Another thing that has improved greatly compared to the debut album is the sound production, which on this album is clear, raw and powerful. It´s not like the two albums are completely different from each other though and you are still able to hear that it´s the same band playing, but there is a chance that the two albums could appeal to two different groups of thrash metal fans. The debut to those who prefer their thrash metal raw and aggressive to the bone and "Man of Straw" to those who prefer their thrash metal a little more varied, more professionally produced and overall more sophisticated. There is still a fierce bite and conviction behind the delivery on "Man of Straw" though and this is by no means "soft" thrash metal. A 3.5 (70%) rating is deserved.