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Vicious Rumors - "Razorback Killers" (CD)

Vicious Rumors - "Razorback Killers" CD cover image

"Razorback Killers" track listing:

1. Murderball
2. Black
3. Razorback Blade
4. Blood Stained Sunday
5. Pearl Of Wisdom
6. All I Want Is You
7. Axe To Grind
8. Let The Garden Burn
9. Rite Of Devastation
10. Deal With The Devil

Reviewed by on April 27, 2011

"Vicious Rumors started with a traditional metal sound, tried its hand with groove, and now walks the line between old school and modern with “Razorback Killers.”"

“Razorback Killers” signifies over thirty years of heavy metal for Vicious Rumors. How many American metal bands have survived over 30 years? Manowar and Overkill are the only ones that come to mind. Through this time, the band has gone through numerous lineup and style changes, all the while sticking to their classic metal guns. Guitarist Geoff Thorpe is the only musician left from the original cast. Vicious Rumors started with a traditional metal sound, tried its hand with groove, and now walks the line between old school and modern with “Razorback Killers.”

Thorpe has seen many new ideas surface in his thirty years as Vicious Rumors’ ax slinger. One won’t find any technical death metal or bouncy metalcore on “Razorback Killers,” though. “Rite of Devastation” features galloping guitar rhythms and leads that resemble the Amott brothers’ fancy fretwork. Other than that, finding new ideas on this recording is difficult. Even Arch Enemy is a ‘90s band. The production is about the most modern element on “Razorback Killers.”

Is adhering to the sounds of the late ‘80s and ‘90s wrong? Not necessarily, especially with the talent Vicious Rumors possesses. Besides, this period was the golden age of metal, and Vicious Rumors still taps into that magic. “Murderball” opens the album with Judas Priest “Painkiller” era guitar riffs.

“Razorback Blade” begins with slick, stop-and-start drums that match Megadeth’s opening artillery volley on “Holy Wars.” Thorpe’s shredding guitar solos often match the tones of Dave Mustaine. Clean tones and the Thorpe’s wailing notes recall moments from “Vulgar Display of Power” Pantera.

Where Vicious Rumors falters is in their song writing, especially lyrics. “Deal with the Devil” contains trite lyrics and cheesy rhythms. “Blood Stained Sunday” shows the band reference itself. This technique became cliché a long time ago. Manowar may get away with singing song about being their selves (for some reason, fans love this), but even those songs are a low point when paired with their epic Viking tales.

Vicious Rumors made out well in the area of vocals. Sure, they are a power metal band, but they subscribe to the first period of power metal when guitars were heavy, choruses weren’t overdone and bands used synth for interlude purposes. When they picked up Brian Allen of the prog/power band Last Empire, they found a singer with balls! Allen has an impressive range with the capacity for aggression and harmony. Also, most of their songs seem steeped in reality; one won’t find ball-shrieking vocals highs that tell tales of dragons, wizards and elves. At least they managed not to fall into that terrible trend.

“Razorback Killers” shows Vicious Rumors reach a milestone four decades of releases. None can argue the talent George Thorpe has recruited over the years. Past members
include musicians from Testament, Nevermore, Helstar, Death Angel, Lääz Rockit and even Hawaii—one of Marty Friedman’s early bands. With their blend of power, thrash and heavy metal, Vicious Rumors shares much in common with Metal Church, although they could benefit from Metal Church’s song writing skills.

“Razorback Killers” bridges old styles with newer styles and production, but their proclivity towards the old may not go over so well in the States. However, their signing with Germany-based label SPV should look favorably on the group’s European sales.

Highs: "Razorback Killers" balances technical playing with groove and aggression with melody.

Lows: The song writing is often cliché.

Bottom line: "Razorback Killers" is a descent thrash and traditional metal album, but certain throwback elements seem outdated.

Rated 3 out of 5 skulls
3 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)