Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Welcome To The (Murder)Ball

Vicious Rumors – Razorback Killers

SPV/Steamhammer – 2011

Sometimes the Fates are cruel and a great band never achieves success and is relatively unknown except to diehard fans. Such is the case with Vicious Rumors who for unknown reasons (misleading glammy name maybe???) have never hit the big time. Well, hold on tight rivetheads because Razorback Killers is here to chew bubblegum and kick ass and it's out of bubblegum.

Guitarist Geoff Thorpe has been the man behind the band since their inception in 1979 in San Francisco. After a few years the band was signed to Shrapnel Records and joined by guitar wiz Vinnie Moore. The band released Soldiers Of The Night in 1985 and then in 1988 Carl Albert from Villian took over the lead vocal spot and Vinnie Moore left for shred land.

Their 1988 album Digital Dictator is one of the best United States power metal albums of all time. Albert was a virtuoso singer and dynamic front man and really put Vicious Rumors on the top of the power metal world. Digital Dictator was followed in 1990 by a move to Atlantic Records and the release of Vicious Rumors. This was followed in 1992 by Welcome ToThe Ball also on Atlantic, but by this time, metal was not the flavor of the month and Vicious Rumors was dropped by their label.

The band soldiered on and released Word Of Mouth on SPV Records in 1994. They were still playing uncompromising, heavy as hell US power metal even during the reign of Alternative and Grunge. Tragically, Carl Albert was killed in a car accident in 1995 and his golden voice was silenced forever. The band continued on but the vocal slot was also a revolving door of pretenders to the Albert throne. None could really match his range and abilities and the music was still heavy metal but it lost its identity when he died.

Geoff Thorpe kept the ball rolling though and in 2006 he tapped James Rivera for the front man slot and brought in Brad Gillis on guitar. The resulting album, Warball, was a partial return to form but the album was still missing the Vicious Rumors style of the Carl Albert era. In fact, the addition of James Rivera resulted in an album that sounded similar to Helstar which wasn’t exactly satisfying or wanted in a Vicious Rumors release. Rivera didn’t last long and the split was rather contentious leaving the band without a lead singer once again.

Fast forward to 2011 and the band has released Razorback Killers with new vocalist Brian Allen and finally Vicious Rumors has found their voice. Allen is reminiscent of Tim “Ripper” Owens at times as well as Carl Albert and he can also traverse the lower vocal ranges like Phil Anselmo. This guy simply sings his ass off on this album.

Geoff Thorpe plays his usual scorching guitar and has enlisted a legion of guest guitarists including Brad Gillis, Eric Petersen, and original guitarist Mark McGee. Bass is handled by Stephen Goodwin with original member Larry Howe is on drums. The musicianship is top notch as always and the guitars are just insane. Hot riffs a-flyin’ everywhere!

“Murderball” is the first track and it screams along like a banshee straight outta hell. Just a blistering track and the band have wisely chosen it as the lead single and have made a video for it.

Next up is “Razorback Killers” which is balls out speedy and hits you in the face like a sack of hammers. BAM! “Black” is more in a mid-paced speed but is still excellent and reminds me of Priest’s “Touch of Evil” in pacing and tone. “Bloodstained Sunday” grinds along destroying lesser metal in its path with its staccato start-stop guitars and blistering vocals. “Pearl Of Wisdom” is another mid-paced number with a clean and melodic chorus and more sweet, sweet riffs.

“All I Want Is You” is, believe it or not, a love song with Geoff Thorpe taking over the vocals and singing in a rougher style. I really like this tune and it reminds me of something M.A.R.S. would put out if they released an album today. Up next is my favorite cut of the album “Axe To Grind.” This song smokes! Guitars everywhere with Allen screaming along as we cruise like an out of control Hellfire missile. This is pure, unadulterated, unalloyed US POWER METAL. No puffy shirted Euro flower metal with keyboards fucking everything up.

“Let The Garden Burn” is an anthemic cut about banging thy head with thy brothers of metal with Thorpe on lead vocals again. Raise some damn horns when you listen to this one. “Right of Devastation” and “Deal With The Devil” close out the album with more speedy goodness and guitars a plenty.

2011 is shaping up to be a hell of a year in metal; disc after quality disc from older bands that have finally figured out that straight up metal is what the fans are hungry for. Leave your two horseshit turntables and a microphone for those nu-metal jackasses. Vicious Rumors has finally matched their classics with Razorback Killers and they deserve your support.

SPV offers the album in the following formats:

Standard CD

Digital Download

Double Gatefold Orange Vinyl


The Bottom Line: Great Odin’s Raven this album crushes skulls! If you don’t own it you should turn in your metalhead card and contemplate your idiocy on the Tree Of Woe. BUY OR DIE!


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