Vicious Rumors // Razorback Killers
Rating: 4.0/5.0 — Warball, Murderball, balls for everybody!
Label: SPV Records
Websites: viciousrumors.com | myspace.com/viciousrumors
Release Dates: EU: 28.03.2011 US: 04.05.2011
2011 is turning out to be a great year for metal thus far. I find myself giving out 4.0 and 4.5 left and right and there’s lots of new stuff I’m really enjoying. With all due modesty, I caused this to happen by predicting the new Belphegor would be one of my top picks unless we had a truly banner year in metal. Well, you can thank your beloved Steel Druhm for the self-jinx by sending him all the finest ales, meats and cheeses from across the lands. Moving on, we come to another surprisingly good release, this time by long running San Francisco vets Vicious Rumors. These chaps have been knocking around since 1979 and put out some great albums early in their career like their self-titled opus and Welcome to the Ball (their debut even featured mega guitar ace Vinnie Moore). After the tragic death of vocalist Carl Albert in 1995, there was a long dry spell of lackluster and mediocre albums and not until 2006’s Warball did they truly get back into vintage fighting shape again. After a lengthy wait, they finally return with Razorback Killers and once again show themselves capable of much ass kickery and name takery.
After losing the talents of super voice James Rivera (Helstar, Destiny’s End, Seven Witches) since their Warball release, Vicious Rumors recover nicely by slotting in Brian Allen (Wild Dogs, Last Empire, Malice). Mr. Allen has a wide vocal range, a suitably rough hewn style and he can hit the air raid notes like Tim “Ripper” Owens when needed (Yes AMG, you hate Ripper, its OK). As good as the vocals are here, Razorback Killers is primarily a guitar driven album and the riffs and solos are the real stars. Founder and leader Geoff Thorpe and his battery mate Kiyoshi Morgan slice, dice and shred their way across all ten tracks. At times approximating the twin axe attack of Judas Priest circa Painkiller and at other times sounding more like Firewind or even Exodus and Testament (no, this is NOT another retro-thrash album), they put on quite a show.
Lead track “Murderball” (what’s up with these guys and balls?) is an instant hit and has that classic/traditional metal sound down cold. Thick, crunchy riffs, powerful but melodic vocals, a big memorable chorus and it even features guest solos by Eric Peterson of Testament fame (very cool ones of the foot-up-on-monitor, head-thrown-back variety). This song almost forces you to raise the horns and nod the head. The remainder of Razorback Killers follows along in that heavy traditional metal format and everything is well done and impressive. Allen gets to rage, simmer and boil over on “Black” which has a mid-paced, huge, epic sound and at times reminds me a lot of Black Sabbath’s “Children of the Sea.” On “Razorback Blade” they dive into Painkilleresque rage with loads of aggression and intense wails and screams by Mr. Allen. Great stuff! Whether trying this type of fast attack or the mid-paced grinders, they get the job done and every song is brimming with guitar heroics and vocal histrionics. Other standouts include the creepy menace throughout “Pearls of Wisdom,” the flashy leads and bad ass vox on “All I Want is You” (which sounds like Shok Paris, you probably never heard of them though), and the face ripping attack of “Rite of Devastation.” This stuff is all high quality and good fun for the whole family.
Though always underrated, when these guys were at their peak of creativity they had it going on. It’s great to see them back in action and approaching the level of their classics after so much time in a funk. Kudos to Geoff Thorpe for keeping the band afloat through the lean years. After two consecutive strong releases, I’m hopeful they keep this line-up intact and keep the hits coming. For fans of traditional metal, this is a slick, polished winner and should be examined post haste. Meanwhile, I shall await my well earned meat and cheese baskets from around the globe.