The Vicious Rumors history is a long one, with origins in 1979 by founding member guitarist Geoff Thorpe and first album in 1986. Except for a few bumps along the way, Thorpe/VR have been going strong. However, this year's Razorback Killers is the first album in six years for the band.
Vicious Rumors shift gears a bit on Razorback Killers with new singer Brian Allen (Last Empire, Malice, Wild Dogs) and a sometimes heavier more modern sound. Brian Allen replaces James Rivera, from the Warball era, and most recently the intermediary Ronnie Stixx. Allen is quite versatile he can be a melodic heavy metal singer, but also wail, scream, and growl as necessary. The latter betrays some of VR's attempts at a modern sound begun on Warball. Harsher vocals, from dirty to hardcore, are found on Murderball, Razorback Blade, and All I Want Is You, by example. Yet, with all his versatility and skill, I was more intrigued with music when Allen wasn't singing.
While Vicious Rumors still delivers American heavy metal lacquered with Bay area thrash and speed metal, you'll find Razorback Killers to be deliberately more intense in parts than previous material. Murderball and Axe to Grind are both examples of a relentless pace anchored in heavier metal. Then Black and Let the Garden Burn return that heavier side to the steady pace of classic metal. Many of these elements converge with a pseudo-power metal feel on the most excellent and entertaining cut, Pearl of Wisdom. (Here, Brian Allen truly shines).
Perhaps, however, the most compelling thing about Razorback Killers is the music (sans the vocals). This is pure 'keep it true' heavy metal, even though clearly heavier than traditional classic metal. With every song I wondered where the arrangements would go next, and when guitarists Thorpe and Morgan would rise up once more with some wicked and thrilling fret work.
Vicious Rumors's Razorback Killers proves that the spirit of pure classic heavy metal is alive and well in America (even though it will probably fall on deaf ears on the same). Very recommended!