Since losing vocalist extraordinaire Carl Albert in 1995, Vicious Rumors has attempted to carry on with no less than four other singers: Brian O’Conner (on 1998′s Cyber Christ), Morgan Thorn (for 2001′s Sadistic Symphony), James Rivera (of Helstar for Warball in 2006) & Ronnie Stixx (who toured with the band but never recorded). At one point, even guitarist/band founder Geoff Thorpe handled lead vocals (on the first post-Albert album, 1996′s Something’s Burning). To varying degrees, the albums worked. Each one had moments of passionate intensity. Each one also had moments that may not have lived up to the VR name. I thought they had struck gold with James Rivera as Warball was easily the best thing they had done to date since Albert’s untimely demise. I am, however, happy to report that the new album (which also sees vocalist #5 attempt to fill Carl Albert’s shoes) is even better.
Brian Allen is taking his turn at the VR mic in true, aggressive metal spirit! Not taking anything away from the other guys who’ve stepped in here, Allen is without a doubt THE man for this job. He packs an intense, absolutely (forgive me) vicious punch! Musically, Thorpe and company have cranked everything up a notch, and the result is, from my view, the best thing the band has done since 1995′s Word of Mouth.
The band has buckled down and put out a very, very strong album. Tracks like “Razorback Blade” and “Axe To Grind” call to mind the glory and speed of classics like “Hellraiser” (from the 1990 self-titled album). Allen proves his mettle here with some seriously impressive vocal acrobatics and soaring wails…absolutely blistering. He comes down out of the stratosphere and puts in a brooding, impassioned performance on “Black”. “Rite Of Devastation”, “Murderball” and “Blood Stained Sunday” all boil over with patented VR rage and spirit, the likes we haven’t heard in a long time. Crowd-rousing track “Let The Garden Burn” is an homage to the European, open air metal festivals held every summer and is sure to get crowds headbanging and chanting back. There is simply not a bad song to be had here, people. Guitar solos are something the band is known for and a couple of returning heros turn out some gems. Brad Gillis (Night Ranger) makes his second appearance on a VR album. Former VR guitarist Mark McGee (who played on all the band’s albums from 1988 through 1995) is welcomed back for a few guest shredders in tandem with Thrope. Testament‘s Eric Petersen even puts in some harmonized solo runs on “Murderball”.
This is the album that I, as a Vicious Rumors fan, have been waiting for since Albert’s passing. Putting a few past missteps aside, because the band has released some strong material over the years. But they have hit a home run with Razorback Killers! This album feels like a natural follow up to Word of Mouth and easily ranks among the Albert years’ material. Get it!