Originally Steel Druhm was going to write this review, but I used my Inception-like powers to convince him I should handle it. I’ve spent the days since, chewing on my nails, wondering what the hell I’ve gotten myself into – no pressure at all! What to write? Well, “write what you know” is how the old saying goes, and here’s what I know: Vicious Rumors crept out of the Bay Area thrash scene among the many other bands at the time (Metallica, Exodus, Death Angel), but failed to see their careers go through the stratosphere like the aforementioned Metallica (although Vicious Rumors attained a fair amount of popularity in Europe). Back in the 80s Vicious Rumors were mostly known as the launch pad for Vinnie Moore’s career, as he was with the band for their debut. Thirty-one years after Soldiers of the Night, are they still legit?

Like a lot of 80s metal acts, Vicious Rumors have carved a steady if not lucrative career out of festivals, and seem to be getting stronger with age. 2011’s Razorback Killers garnered an impressive 4.0 rating by Steel, and 2013’s Electric Punishment was equally strong. On Concussion Protocol the power/thrash vets picked up right where they left off, with one main difference: yet another new singer. Vicious Rumors go through vocalists like Spinal Tap go through drummers: Dutchman Nick Holleman is the band’s 10th, and though Holleman joined back in 2013, this is his first shot at recorded glory with the band. Concussion Protocol thunders out of the gates with the title track: the towering, anthemic intro features crashing toms and a wailing lead break before dropping into a trademark Vicious Rumors riff, and in comes Holleman, sneering the lines at us atop double-kick drumming. A promising start.

The band doesn’t let up on subsequent tracks, either; “Chemical Slaves” has a fast groove that’s quite similar to Metal Church’s “Killing Your Time” (another solid 2016 release from some seasoned vets), “Chasing the Priest” is a great Teutonic-tinged dose of thrash, and “Take it or Leave it” is a gem of a bass-led anthem with an odd time change at the half-way point. Vicious Rumors can’t keep it going for all eleven tracks, though. While “Last of Our Kind” has a great chorus that sounds like it was lifted from an old Accept record, the song’s melodic structure just doesn’t sit right and the bridge could have come from something off Judas Priest’s Turbo. And why do bands insist on slowing things down on one token track? Here that track is “Circle of Secrets” and it sticks out like a sore thumb. Not to mention the lyrics, which can be patently silly – “Victims of a digital world, lost without connection” goes the chorus on “Victims of a Digital World,” while I listen to it on my iPhone…

These missteps are minor compared to the overall impact of Concussion Protocol. The recent injections of European talent (in addition to Holleman, bassist Tilen Hudrap hails from Slovenia) show themselves throughout, from the rhythm-heavy production to the gang choruses. Hudrap intersperses some sharp licks across many of the songs. The guitar work is top notch, with founder Geoff Thorpe and fellow axeman Thaen Rasmussen consistently nailing riffs, solos, and harmonies with aplomb. The star of the show, however, has to be Holleman. The man’s vocal range and style are eye-opening, as he can move from growls to sneers to wails in the blink of an eye, eliciting comparisons ranging from Helloween’s Kai Hansen to Rob Halford. Holleman brings an extra degree of quality to Concussion Protocol, turning already solid songs into standout tracks – “Take it or Leave it” is the best example of this.

I told myself after the first listen that Concussion Protocol was a good album, but wasn’t going to match the 4.0 that Razorback Killers received. I was wrong. The solid songwriting, stellar performances and revelatory vocals from Holleman all greatly outweigh the minor imperfections (generic, at times outdated lyrics, and the weaker moments of “Last of Our Kind” and “Circle of Secrets”), and I find myself enjoying this record more with each spin. This will be a tough power/thrash album to top in my books this year. Maybe Vicious Rumors can start to get some late-career accolades; they’re certainly earning them.

Rating: 4.0/5.0
DR: 8 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: SPV/Steamhammer
Websites: viciousrumors.com | facebook.com/viciousrumorsthisismetal
Releases Worldwide: August 26th, 2016

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  • If you were in my mind then you’ll have Cirith Ungol forever stuck in yours. It’s a gift and a curse.

    • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra


  • Iain Gleasure

    If there was ever a band photo that needed unicorning it was this

    • Blueberry Balls


  • Dr. Wvrm

    That logo looks like it’s direct from a Windows98 screensaver.

    • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

      It was most likely made in WordArt. I already made up this funny story in my mind where a 14-year old kid charged them 200$ for the logo and then came up with this after 15 minutes fumbling on WordArt.

    • Martin Knap

      I imagined a very edgy Thailandese band called Royal Defamation that uses this font.

  • [not a Dr]

    Can’t .KJNW readdddd endoui of werfjk revvvvview:::::

  • Ya know, their self titled album and Welcome to the Ball have held up really well over the years.

    • BaboonKing

      No love for Digital Dictator? I also have a soft spot for Word of Mouth; it’s a bit uneven, and following up on your best record is always tough, but it still has its share of killer tunes (Thunder & Rain alone is worth the price of admission). Damn, Carl Albert was such a loss…

    • Both of those albums are excellent, as is Digital Dictator, but I have to admit that I find myself leaning towards those two before Digital Dictator.

      “One world! One earth!”

  • Bryan Stroup

    I find the vocalist comparisons a bit odd, considering he’s essentially a dead ringer for Niklas Stalvind from Wolf.

    • ars_nihili

      He sounded a lot like Tobias Sammet to me.

  • André Snyde Lopes

    “No one can walk on water”, eh?

    Jorn begs to differ.

    • [not a Dr]

      Living in Canada, I happen to walk on water every winter.

  • JohnC

    Everything about the face (band photo, album cover, band logo) screams cheese but them music is actually decent. Not my personal taste, but damn, I gotta hand it to them for defying expectations.

  • 517H

    Okay a 4.0 is pretty high in AMG speak. Personally I see a 4.0/4.5/5.0 generally reserved for offerings that are fairly new and contemporary or offer a good hybrid sound of genres. This is so squarely in a particular pocket I’m surprised it gets a 4.0. Will have to listen a few more times. But the short song length is a great start.

    On a side note – Oh your God I love the WItherscape artwork on the background.

  • Oscar Albretsen

    A good new power metal album!? I must be living in happy land!!!!!

  • Oscar Albretsen

    Oh, and btw, the new Opeth comes out on Sep. 30th, because I’m sure you were all wondering.

  • jersey devil


  • jersey devil

    totally fucking rocks

  • Micky Mikutowicz

    sorry but the 1st album and “welcome…” are the benchmarks(dig.dictator is a great cd also) and nothing has come even close….this one is..well..not good….not good at all….