Review: Vicious Rumors “Vicious Rumors” [Atlantic Records]

Review: Vicious Rumors “Vicious Rumors” [Atlantic Records]

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Vicious Rumors have never been my go-to US power metal band, but just as with most bands, I have a thing for their earlier outputs. Digital Dictator will forever be their best work; but even the two surrounding albums are good for what they are. The self-titled album may not be quite as consistent as its predecessor, but it’s occasionally ballsier, even if the band’s personality remains as recognizable as ever.

Stylistically speaking, Vicious Rumors were never one of the heaviest, nor the fastest, yet the band arguably aims for heavier standards than they did on Digital Dictator and considering the label that they were on at this time, you’d rather expect things to be the other way around. ‘Don’t Wait for Me’ rouses onward with some early Metal Church-esque intensity to it and it’s a great introduction to the album. You’ve got these stinging riffs that appear next to Carl Albert’s infectious wails and while Vicious Rumors never wrote the most elaborated choruses, they surely knew how to stick them into your head. ‘On the Edge’ turns up the heat even more, with some semi-thrashing riffs that result into yet another surprisingly heavy offering that was previously unheard of… but there’s more! The speed metal blitzkrieg of ‘Hellraiser’ is also fantastic; a merciless onslaught of relentless guitars, pounding drums and thundering vocals and who could forget ‘Thrill of the Hunt’, which gallops like a pissed off horse heading into battle?

On the flip side, US power metal bands writing lightweight material has always been a risky business and in Vicious Rumors’ case, you end up with some inconsistent material at least. ‘Can You Hear It’ is a crowd pumping track that features a lively main riff, but with an underwhelming chorus that appears soon after, it’s a bit too plain for my taste. ‘Down to the Temple’ is another inferior cut; with its slow-rocking rhythms and some hook-free vocal lines, you could simply avoid this track and you wouldn’t miss a thing. Fortunately, even some other lightweight material works surprisingly well, even if we’re not speaking of any knock out tunes. Based on the title, you might expect ‘Axe and Smash’ to be something naughty, but it’s a decent vocal-oriented track that resembles the aforementioned ‘Can You Hear It’ – just with an actual exciting chorus to boot this time. Finally, ‘Ship of Fools’ is the band’s first ballad and it’s surprisingly enjoyable. Somewhat reminiscent of what Queensrÿche did circa Operation: Mindcrime, we’re talking about bouncy riffs that provide a solid backbone for Carl Albert’s passionate wails and a predictable, if sentimental chorus.

Unfortunately, the 90’s were a dark time for US power metal bands and not even Vicious Rumors could resist flirting with what was hot at the time (Welcome to the Ball would not embrace groove metal just yet, but it’s not my cup of tea either) before returning to their original style in the next decade; a story for next time, perhaps.

Score: 75/100 – Hardly harmful

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