Vicious Rumors

Soldiers of the Night Vicious Rumors - Soldiers of the Night (Shrapnel Records) 1985
1. Premonition (1:04)
2. Ride (Into the Sun) (3:44)
3. Medusa (3:57)
4. Soldiers of the Night (4:22)
5. Murder (4:01)
6. March or Die (4:37)
7. Blitz the World (3:38)
8. Invaderv2:51)
9. In Fire (3:22)
10. Domestic Bliss (3:40)
11. Blistering Winds (3:27)

Vicious Rumor’s "Soldiers of the Night" is considered a heavy metal classic by those who remember the early days of American power metal. The band’s debut featured the dual guitar talents of Geoff Thorpe and Vinnie Moore. Geoff would continue to wave the Vicious Rumors flag for decades to come, while Vinnie Moore quickly moved on to a solo career, and later to become the lead guitarist of the legendary UFO. Vocalist Gary St. Pierre was formerly a member of Marty Friedman’s band Hawaii before joining Vicous Rumors. Of course St. Pierre would also leave the band before their next album, and was replaced by Carl Albert, the man who is known as the voice of Vicious Rumors. Rounding out the band was bassist Dave Starr and drummer Larry Howe, who along with Thorpe continued on with Vicious Rumors after this release.

The band’s sound here is traditional heavy metal, adding in just enough speed and fury to have been thrown into the speed/power metal school of metal (not unlike early Metal Church). Certainly no one would mistake Vicious Rumors for a thrash band, but they did have some elements from the genre as well. Besides the speed of songs like "In Fire", there is also the barked out background vocals that became a trademark for thrash in the 80’s. What really helps set this album  up above the pack is the incredible guitar duo. Moore and Thorpe just let loose with some tasty licks and tricks. However, while the guitar soloing certainly is a highlight, it’s not some much so that it overshadows the songs themselves. There is even a guitar instrumental titled “Invader” which takes a huge influence from Van Halen's "Eruption". Frankly, Soldiers of the Night would probably fall into the same shred category as early Cacophony, Racer X, CJSS and arguably Whitecross. (Of course, Cacophony and Whitecross wouldn’t release and album until a year later. Racer X’s “Street Lethal” and CJSS “World Gone Made” came out the same year.) Other bands of comparison would be Helstar and possibly Jag Panzer’s “Ample Destruction”.

“Soldiers of the Night” is classic heavy metal. Any headbanger worth their faded Iron Maiden tour shirt and torn jeans would do well to have this in their collection, especially now that it’s been remastered and reissued on CD for the first time since the collectible Price Killer series. Unfortunately the packaging is a cheap digi pack with no booklet, though the original liner notes and cover art are included.

Digital Dictator Vicious Rumors - Digital Dictator (Shrapnel) 1988

1. "Replicant" [instrumental] (1:04)
2. "Digital Dictator" (3:17)
3. "Minute to Kill" (3:34)
4. "Towns on Fire" (4:23)
5. "Lady Took A Chance" (6:11)
6. "World's and Machines" (5:30)
7. "The Crest" (2:56)
8. "R.L.H." (4:01)
9. "Condemned" (3:52)
10. "Out of the Shadows" (4:09)

Digital Dictator was Vicious Rumors second album that was released some three years after their debut and featured two new members; Mark McGee on guitar and Carl Albert on vocals. This proved to be the favorite line-up by fans of the band. 'Digital Dictator' is a smoking, semi-commercial power metal affair. It's easy to see why Carl Albert was favored by fans as his voice is absolutely amazing. (Sadly, Carl Albert died in 1995.) This album was actually my first exposure to this band, and I cannot believe I have not heard these guys before! Perhaps the name threw me off, as it sounds a bit on the glam/pop metal side. Darn, and wouldn't you know most all their discs are now out of print! Checking eBay, however, their discs sell for a decent price, most under $10.

Vicious Rumors Vicious Rumors (Atlantic) 1990

1. "Don't Wait For Me" (4:14)
2. "World Church" (5:05)
3. "On The Edge" (3:07)
4. "Ship Of Fools" (4:26)
5. "Can You Hear It" (3:25)
6. "Down To The Temple" (5:17)
7. "Hellraiser" (4:14)
8. "Electric Twilight" [instrumental] (1:51)
9. "Thrill Of The Hunt" (4:01)
10. "Axe And Smash" (3:44)

Vicious Rumor's self titled disc is actually their third album, but their first on a major label. Thankfully, Atlantic/Sony didn't ruin this band, as Vicious Rumors is a vicious power metal assault, sounding a bit like Metal Church or a heavier and more aggressive Queensryche. "Vicious Rumors" starts off heavy and only gets heavier as it goes. There are a few more mellow moments on the disc, but overall, Vicious Rumors is high caliber heavy metal. One thing about this disc though is that it has more immediate hooks than any other VR disc I have owned thus far.

Welcome to the Ball Vicious Rumors - Welcome to the Ball (Atlantic) 1991

1. "Abandoned" (4:15)
2. "You Only Live Twice" (3:37)
3. "Savior from Anger" (4:08)
4. "Children" (4:55)
5. "Dust to Dust" (4:19)
6. "Raise Your Hands" (4:02)
7. "Strange Behavior" (4:07)
8. "Six Step Sisters" (3:31)
9. "Mastermind" (3:54)
10. "When Love Comes Down" (4:58)
11. "Ends of the Earth" (3:12)

I'd be willing to bet that if this band had been named almost anything else, they would have been much more popular. Vicious Rumors just sounds like a LA hair band. Their music, however, is a blend of the best of the 80's Seattle sound, mixing together equal parts early Queensryche and the chunk and vox of Metal Church. What can I say? This is right up my alley but somehow I missed them during this time, assuming that they were just another pop metal band. Darn those stupid stereotypes! Oh well, no time like the present. "Welcome to the Ball" is as excellent a power metal album as anything the above mentioned bands put out, which is saying alot. The disc starts off heavy, and with the exception of a few mellow points, pretty much stays heavy throughout.

Word of Mouth Vicious Rumors - Word of Mouth (SPV) 1994

1. "Against the Grain" (4:22)
2. "All Rights Reserved" (4:41)
3. "The Voice" (4:13)
4. "Thinking of You" (4:56)
5. "Thunder & Rain -Part 1" (3:15)
6. "Thunder & Rain -Part 2" (3:07)
7. "No Fate" (4:25)
8. "Sense of Security" (4:31)
9. "Dreaming" (4:15)
10. "Building #6" (4:01)
11. "Ministry of Fear" (4:22)
12. "Music Box" [instrumental] (1:55)

"Word of Mouth" is a spectacular heavy metal disc. It's rare to hear an album that is musically this tight and has such stellar vocals that remains inside the parameters of heavy metal without straying into realms of progressive metal. Vocalist Carl Albert has a great voice that actually reminds me of Eric A.K. from Flotsam & Jetsam in their early years at times and at other times of David Wayne of Metal Church/Reverend. As a matter of fact, the entire disc is stylistically within the same mold as Flots' "No Place for Disgrace" or most of the Metal Church albums. I'm sure that this comparison will upset some people, but it really is the sound that I am reminded of when listening to this disc. Actually in my opinion, this is a compliment as I am a huge fan of this style of powerful and passionate heavy metal. I wish there were more bands in the 90's that were playing this style.

Vicious Rumors - Something Burning (Massacre) 1996

1. "Ballhog" (3:38)
2. "Mouth" (3:11)
3. "Out Of My Misery" (4:00)
4. "Something Burning" (3:41)
5. "Concentration" (4:07)
6. "Chopping Block" (4:10)
7. "Perpetual" (3:54)
8. "Strip Search" [instrumental] (3:35)
9. "Make It Real" (4:45)
10. "Free To Go" (4:59)

Steve Smyth pick
Steve Smyth guitar pick

Vicious Rumors' first disc after the death of Carl Albert. As such, Geoff Thorpe steers the machine clear of the 80's power metal sound that Vicious Rumors is known for, adding a new, gruff vocalist, grungy guitars and a lusty union of powerful riffs, heavy grooves and downtuned sludge. Probably not their best disc, but it is most certainly is their heaviest. I personally miss the soulful, melodic vocals of Carl Albert, but aside from that, "Something Burning" is a decent modern metal album.

Vicious Rumors - Cyber-Christ (Victor/Japan) 1998

1. "Cyberchrist" (4:26)
2. "Buried Alive" (5:05)
3. "Kill the Day" (4:23)
4. "No Apologies" (3:29)
5. "Fear of God" (3:55)
6. "Gig's Eviction" (3:12)
7. "Barcelona" [instrumental] (3:02)
8. "Downpour" (3:11)
9. "Candles Burn" (5:08)
10. "Fiend" (2:51)
11. "Faith" (5:11)

"CyberChrist" is one heavy stinkin' slab of heavy metal, although I must confess right off the bat that this CD is very unlike much of the rest of the band's catalogue. Whereas much of Vicious Rumors' albums can be accurately described as power metal, "CyberChrist" follows in the trends of more modern groove metal bands like Pantera and Down. The guitars are downtuned, the rhythms heavy and predominate. There are lots of those heavy guitar grooves laid on top of even heavier, mid-paced drum work. The vocals on this disc range from a mid-range melodic singing to that macho shouting that has become so popular in modern forms of metal. Of course, what would a Vicious Rumors album be without Geoff Thorpe's smokin' axe-work. Songs like "Buried Alice", "Fear God" and "No Apologies", despite being the most brutal, heavy and modern sounding songs the band has written, still feature some stellar lead work. (However, the Pantera comparisons still apply.) Other tracks like "Kill the Day" and "Downpour" pick up the pace a bit, and can more accurately be described as speed metal. This song also features some excellent guitar work. Unfortunately that cannot be said for many modern metal bands as talent and guitar heroes become unpopular in the late 90's. To be quite frank, I think I prefer the band's power metal discs to this album, however, that doesn't mean I don't like it. One the contrary, had this been the band's first album they probably would still have been a band I followed.

Sadistic Rumors Vicious Rumors - Sadistic Symphony (Parris) 2001

1. "Break" (5:07)
2. "Sadistic Symphony" (5:47)
3. "March of the Damned" (5:14)
4. "Blacklight" (8:07)
5. "Puritan Demons" (4:18)
6. "Born Again Hard" (3:47)
7. "Neodymium Man" (4:35)
8. "Elevator to Hell" (3:58)
9. "Cerebral Sea" (5:00)
10. "Ascension" [instrumental] (1:23)
11. "Liquify" (5:10)

Vicious Rumors get vicious on this disc. The 80's power metal sound is almost gone, but in place we are given a new lease on life, heavy modern power metal riffs, speedy guitar solos and mid-range aggressive vocals. The vocals are aggressive, yet influential and somewhat operatic. Production is outstanding without being overly clean. Songs like the title track and "Born-Again Hard" are mid-paced heavy metal numbers which need no other label. This is pure heavy metal! Other tracks, however, like "Puritan Demons" are fast and heavy touching a style of speed metal that is rarely played by today's power metal and prog metal bands. The overall song structures are well-written and the musicianship is stellar, however, the songs themselves are not overtly (or overly) technical, which add to the appeal, in my opinion. An emphasis on writing good songs over trying to show off how technical you can be is a quality I welcome. I am also glad that Geoff Thorpe got all the alternative bugs out of him and has returned to playing the style of music we all want to hear from Vicious Rumors, balls-to-the-wall heavy metal!

Warball Vicious Rumors - Warball (Mascot Records) 2006

1. "Sonic Rebellion" (2:55)
2. "Mr. Miracle" (4:52(
3. "Dying Every Day" (4:44)
4. "Inmortal" (3:56)
5. "Warball" (6:22)
6. "Crossthreaded" (4:46)
7. "Wheels Of Madness" (3:46)
8. "Windows Of Memory" (3:03)
9. "A Ghost Within" (4:56)
10. "Oceans Of Rage" (3:39)

I waited anxiously for this CD to come in the mail. Vicious Rumors with the one and only James Rivera (Helstar/Seven Witches) simply had to be great. Once I tore open the box and popped the disc into my deck, I was immediately taken back. This CD freakin' rules!!! This is how heavy metal should sound. Not that I had any doubts at all. Geoff Thorpe is a veteran of the heavy metal wars and James Rivera is simply one of the best classic heavy metal vocalist around. The fact that this man isn't remembered on the same level as guys like Ian Gillan, Rob Halford and Ronnie James Dio just goes to show that there is more to fame than true talent. It may sound trite, but on "Warball" the band successfully manages to meld together classic Helstar and Vicious Rumors. Each and every track on this molten power metaller is penned to complete perfection. If I had to pick a weaker song, I'd probably go with the acoustic, melodic, semi-ballad "Windows Of Memory". If the vocals and songs themselves don't send you into instant fits of headbanging, then the guitar solos are sure to leave your jaw on the floor. None other than Brad Gillis (Night Ranger/Ozzy) performs lead guitars on tracks 1, 2, 3, 4 & 9. Geoff Thorpe and Thaen Rasmussen are not slackers themselves. Both pull out some technical, jaw-dropping solos. "Warball" is a more than worthy successor to the classic Carl Albert years. It is a true feast of true heavy metal.

Razorback Vicious Rumors - Razorback Killers (SPV Records) 2011

1.   Murderball (4:09)
2.   Razorback Blade (4:15)
3.   Black (6:01)
4.   Blood Stained Sunday (5:52)
5.   Pearl Of Wisdom (6:34)
6.   All I Want Is You (4:28)
7.   Axe To Grind (3:37)
8.   Let The Garden Burn (5:08)
9.   Rite Of Devastation (4:23)
10. Deal With The Devil (7:08)

Another classic band from the 80's returning with a strong offering, and dare I say one of their best albums since the Carl Albert years. Original band members drummer Larry Howe and guitarist Geoff Thorpe are joined here by vocalist Brian Allen, guitarist Kiyoshi Morgan, and bassist Stephen Goodwin have come together to unleash a vicious metal monster. While I would normally describe Vicious Rumors as either traditional heavy metal or classic power metal, "Razorback Killers" leans heavily towards speed metal and thrash. As a matter of fact, thrash legend Eric Peterson of Testament fame contributes some guitar work to "Murderball". Thorpe and Morgan lay down some thick, crunchy guitar riffs. They slice, dice and shred their way across the entire platter. Yes indeed, this is heavy metal! There are no inane keyboards, no orchestras, no opera singers. It's all about heavy riffs, powerhouse drumming, pounding bass and memorable songs.

"Murderball" is probably the most immediate standout track. The song sports powerful, melodic vocals, big guitar riffs and a memorable chorus. Many thrash bands could take cue from these veterans who know how to keep the aggression high without forsaking the hook. "Razorback Blade" has a biting Judas Priest/Painkiller-era sound. Really the entire disc is solid. There's not a song here that I don't like.

New vocalist Brian Allen probably has the best fit voice for this band since Albert. James Rivera, who sang on the band's 2006 album "Warball" is among my favorite vocalists, but I think his voice is best in Helstar and Seven Witches. Allen can sing, but he also has a nasty snarl that works well for this brand of adrenaline charged speed metal. His voice worked especially well on the 7-minute long "Deal with the Devil", a bombastic number with a fantastic guitar solo from guest guitarist Brad Gillis (Night Ranger/Ozzy Osbourne). Much respect to to Geoff Thorpe for creating another solid slab of heavy metal under the Vicious Rumors banner.

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