posted on 5/2011 By:
For nearly thirty years, Geoff Thorpe and his constantly changing cast of cohorts in Vicious Rumors have churned out some (mostly) seriously respectable American power metal. In the sixteen years since the untimely passing of classic-era vocalist Carl Albert, no two consecutive VR records have featured the same vocalist, and Razorback Killers continues that trend – former Wild Dogs vocalist Brian Allen takes over from the voice of 2006’s Warball, Helstar’s James Rivera. Even with a different singer, Razorback Killers is business as usual for Vicious Rumors, which is to say that it’s a solid, fun, thrashy take on anthemic and aggressive power metal.
The album opens with the blazing “Murderball” – continuing the band’s ball theme: “Murderball,” Warball, “Ballhog,” Welcome To The Ball, plus that spiked-ball logo – one of Razorback’s finest numbers and a microcosmic encapsulation of the best parts of the band’s aesthetic. From the admittedly retread (but still effective) power-thrash pedal-point riff through Allen’s snarl-to-a-scream range and the shift from thrash-leaning verse into sing-along chorus, “Murderball” is quintessential modern Vicious Rumors. Though Razorback grooves, the band’s late-90s emphasis on groove metal has thankfully been abandoned in the new millennium.
Allen’s voice is strong, arguably the best the band has had since Albert (with only Rivera as true competition); his throaty growls augment the thrashier numbers, while the power metal choruses are rife with the expected soaring moments. The band's near-trademark gang backing vocals are also present. As with Warball, Razorback sports guest appearances: guitarists Brad Gillis (Night Ranger / ex-Ozzy) and Erik Peterson (Testament) turn up, while Atlantic-era Rumors six-stringer Mark McGee returns, as well. Riff- and solo-wise, the interplay between Thorpe, new guitarist Kiyoshi Morgan, and the guest guitarists is solid, though regrettably only in a few places (“Murderball,” the “Ripper”-like intro to “Black,” “Rite Of Devestation”) do the riffs achieve a more than fleeting memorability.
Since Thorpe has gotten the band back on the right course in the last decade, Vicious Rumors has gotten stronger with each record, so it stands to reason that Razorback Killers is their best in a very long time – their best, in fact, since they left Atlantic after Welcome To The Ball. In a few instances, Razorback loses a small amount of momentum– the heavy-metal-festival theme of “Let The Garden Burn” is tailor-made for crowd interaction at Wacken, but it’s a bit goofy on record, as is the “You can’t stop a shooting star” sentiment of the moody “All I Want Is You.” Still, critiquing power metal lyrics is something of a lost cause, and in truth, it’s a minor complaint at best – Razorback Killers is a success, with only a few small cracks showing in the band’s armor.
Now in the beginning years of their fourth decade, Vicious Rumors is on a roll again, two for two with their last efforts. I was a fan back in the day – I thoroughly enjoy the first four records, and particularly the self-titled and Welcome To The Ball – and I lost interest in the span between Albert’s death and Warball, but that album was strong enough to put Vicious Rumors back on my radar. Moving onward and upward, a half-decade later, Razorback is stronger, and it’s exactly what I expect from this band – fiery, melodic, fist-pumping and thrash-tinted power metal done properly. Welcome back to the ball, gentlemen.
Register to post comments.