The Southern California-based thrash metal band VIKING was founded in the spring of 1986. The original lineup consisted of Ron Eriksen, Guitar/Vocals; Brett Eriksen, Guitar; Matt Jordan, Drums; and James Lareau, Bass.
In 1985, Ron Daniel had become tired of playing in the southern California punk scene. He'd joined the band The Hags when their lead guitarist went to jail, and had enjoyed the notoriety that came with being in one of Orange County's most controversial stage acts. Billed as "Rock and Roll's abortion," the group was like a punk Black Sabbath with a genius sociopath at the mic. (Mark Dead regularly using surgically precise insults to provoke audiences towards violence against himself and the band.)
One night, when headlining a 12-band bill celebrating the grand reopening of a famous punk club, Ron was grousing to high school pals Matt Jordan and James Lareau about the scene, about having no creative control, and about the fact that this music was just too damn SLOW. He said he was ready to quit.
Matt was playing drums in Iron Maiden tribute band Barrier at the time. With no permanent singer or bass player, the future wasn't looking promising. Bassist James was playing with the Schuerman brothers in punk band Lethal Gene, but the band wasn't gigging enough.
Together, the three of them decided to dump their bands and form a new unit: Tracer (named after the visual effects LSD has on its user). They began writing tunes immediately. But even after auditioning half a dozen singers, the right vocalist couldn't be found. They temporarily borrowed Tony Vargas (L.S.N./Vermin) to produce a three-song demo entitled "Sudden Death," but the band was destined to dissolve.
Matt wanted to keep playing, and put an ad in the Recycler asking for musicians that were "into Slayer and old KISS." A guitarist named Brett answered the ad.
Brett Sarachek had come to L.A. from Kansas, and played in several metal groups with names that would later be recognizable: Blind Decree featured guitarist Glenn Rogers (Deliverance/Vengeance Rising/Hirax) and Mike Gonzalez (Dark Angel), and The Hierophant had vocalist Julian Mendez (Heretic).
Matt and Brett decided to jam, and invited Ron to sit in. Starting with Slayer's "Black Magic," they played a few tunes that sounded tight. As a joke, Ron picked up the mic and belted out another Slayer tune. Matt and Brett were floored. They emphatically told Ron that they didn't need to find a vocalist. HE was the guy. Hesitant, Ron finally acquiesced. If they could find a bass player, they'd be up and running immediately. James was called, and in 1986, VIKING was born.
They started furiously writing new tunes and reworking some of the Tracer and Hierophant material. In a very short time, they had a setlist and started booking shows.
VIKING managed to land a recording contract upon the completion of their second live concert, a feat practically unheard of in the clubs of Hollywood.
They continued gigging, and released two albums considered to be essential classics in the catalog of late-80s thrash metal — "Do or Die" and "Man of Straw."
Although VIKING had a six-album contract with Metal Blade Records and an upcoming U.S. tour with Helstar, Ron knew that his new-found Christian faith would not withstand the temptations of the road. He quit the band in 1990 along with Matt Jordan, who had also recently become a Christian. With only two members remaining, VIKING immediately disbanded.
Brett, having replaced DARK ANGEL's Jim Durkin on a world tour, joined the band full time, and released "Time Does Not Heal" before exiting the band himself. In the meantime, Ron and Matt had moved to Oregon, and James pursued a career in sculpture.
Fast-forward 22 years. A new generation of thrash fans revere the music of the "old guard": that first wave of bands from '85, '86, and '87 who followed Slayer and Metallica into the pit. Bootleggers had been producing VIKING records and merchandise, while relentless requests from both long-time followers and new thrash fans demanded the return of VIKING.
In 2011, Ron Daniel Eriksen and Matt Jordan reunited for the purpose of creating new tunes. The new VIKING page on Facebook gained over a thousand fans the first week — and continues to grow past 25,000. "No Child Left Behind" — a new, full-length studio album of original tunes — was released in 2015. Original members Ron and Matt have teamed up with former Dark Angel bassist Michael Gonzalez, and Justin Zych of Zephaniah, and have been playing live shows again since 2013.