ALBUMS THAT WILL F*CK YOUR FACE OFF IN 2011: VICIOUS RUMORS, RAZORBACK KILLERS
Label – SPV/Steamhammer
Release Date – April 5, 2011
Sometimes, I judge bands by their names. To be perfectly honest, I always judge bands by their names. Which is why I had successfully avoided ever listening to Bullet for My Valentine. But then they had to go and open for Maiden. So — I first stumbled across Vicious Rumors because I saw their name somewhere and was intrigued. I thought they were hair metal.
I was mistaken.
Vicious Rumors have been around since 1979, and yet, I personally have never met anyone who has heard of them. Their music is usually described as power metal, but there’s a definite element of angry thrash thrown in for good measure, along with more melodic breaks. “In Fire,” from their first release in 1986, Soldiers of the Night, demonstrates exactly this. The vocals are chanted/bitten-off with rapid-fire execution, and along with the rolling drums and galloping guitars, it’s like a power metal version of Testament, topped off by a Halford scream. “Minute to Kill,” from the second album Digital Dictator, is another excellent example of raging guitars and bellowing vocals. Singer Carl Albert’s shriek is, I’d say, among the best.
Word of Mouth, from 1994, contains my personal favorite, “Sense of Security.” It’s signature Vicious Rumors, with exceedingly fast drumming and spat-out lyrics that escalate to a more melodic climax. The album also features a pretty bitchin’ cover of The Rolling Stones’ “Paint It Black.” I like the Stones alright, and I liked the song a fair amount already, but this version is fantastic. It’s all evil screeching and squealing guitars, and it’s amped up to eleven. I mean, I’m biased, I think everything sounds better when it’s faster and louder, but holy crap. I would’ve switched allegiance from The Beatles to The Stones way faster if they sounded like this to begin with. The cackle and scream at the end, paired with the galloping solo? Yes, please.
In 1998, the Vicious Rumors formula strayed a little with Cyberchrist. New singer Brian O’Connor gave the band a more grunge-mixed-with-nu-metal sound, toning down the melodic aspects. But the familiar thrash/power tone of previous albums still came through in songs like “Kill the Day,” and by 2001’s Sadistic Symphony, with yet another new singer, Morgan Thorn, the classic sound was back.
Though Vicious Rumors have steadfastly been releasing new material, it’s been five years since their 2006 record Warball. Even with the band’s troubled history (vocalist Carl Albert was in the band from 1988 until he died in a car crash in 1995), this has been the longest gap between albums. Originating in San Francisco, the band has been through a ridiculous amount of people coming and going, with guitarist Geoff Thorpe remaining as the one constant. Not to mention, a variety of labels. As the main songwriter and composer, though, Thorpe has pulled together a pretty stable cast for their 2011 release ,with newcomer Brian Allen (ex-Malice) on vocals as well as guest guitarists Eric Petersen (Testament/Dragonlord) and Brad Gillis (Night Ranger/Ozzy).