VICIOUS RUMORS – Vicious Rumors [Rock Candy remaster] (2015)
Another band that should have been far more successful than they were is rescued by Rock Candy specialists with a superb remastering of their self-titled debut: VICIOUS RUMORS.
Californians Vicious Rumors started out on the Shrapnel / Roadrunner imprint before landing a major label deal with Atlantic (resulting in two studio albums and a live). Though their second album Digital Dictator had been excellent, this 1990’s “Vicious Rumors” effort was simply fantastic, the very peak of the band’s career.
It’s well known that the San Francisco Bay Area produced many fine bands during the ’60s and ’70s, but they were almost exclusively in a psychedelic or hippy-trippy folk style.
However, by the 1980s the pendulum was swinging towards heavier rock acts, a scene led by the emergence of local thrash and power metal mavericks, including Metallica, Exodus and Testament. It was a surprising turn of events but one that provided a healthy, some might say insatiable, taste amongst a new breed of fans for fast and furious shredding.
Vicious Rumors were one of the pioneering acts of the Bay Area scene and, despite their uncompromising style, they also earned a well deserved reputation as the thinking man’s metal / hard rock outfit.
Never afraid to infuse their sound with intricate twists and turns, the musicianship indicated that they might have had more in common with progressive sounds than pure metal.
Indeed, guitarist Mark McGee had actually been a member of Pomp prog gods Starcastle for a brief moment in time. Progressing through two independent albums and gaining a solid following, they eventually signed a major deal with industry heavyweights Atlantic Records and cut this self titled album in San Francisco.
Issued in 1990, it is a record of extreme maturity, harnessing their heavy riffs onslaught with precision and force.
“Don’t Wait for Me” throws the album immediately into cruise mode. Catchy melodic backups singer Carl Albert – owner of a tremendous mid-ranged and melodic voice with an edge – during the bridge, before the explosive gang backing vocals during the main chorus.
“World Church” barrels along a little more slowly, but strikes out again with an infectious chorus with harmony shouts (this band has always had the huge catchy chorus down pat, even on the more recent albums).
These are both great songs, but neither could prepare you for “On the Edge”, which is simply put one of the most fantastic melodic metal songs ever, with its unforgettable riffing and Albert hitting high notes.
But “Vicious Rumors” isn’t finished yet. “Ship of Fools” creates an epic hard rock equation, it’s almost like a power ballad but without the sugary. “Can You Hear It” once again creates hard rock bliss in a metal shell, with a chorus that one could easily imagine Rob Halford, Ronnie James Dio or Ozzy belting out.
“Down to the Temple” is a little heavier but keeps the same mid-pace of the previous two tracks. Not to fear, the great acoustic intro of “Hellraiser” betrays a raging beast almost on par with “On the Edge”.
The quality of “Vicious Rumors” is still impresses to this day.
The record has that big budget ’80s polished sound, everything on the album sounds fantastic and the vocals cut right through, part knife part red alert. The songs are uniformly killer, all exciting and glossy.
I can see why Rock Candy has decided to remaster “Vicious Rumors” (they usually work with Melodic Hard Rock acts): despite of being and album firmly planted into US Metal style, it’s extremely melodic, catchy, and sonically bombastic.
Yes, melodic rockers & traditional hard rock fans need to check this one. If you’ve ever wanted to check this band out, or never heard about them, start here. You won’t be disappointed.
01 – Don’t Wait For Me
02 – World Church
03 – On The Edge
04 – Ship Of Fools
05 – Can You Hear It
06 – Down To The Temple
07 – Hellraiser
08 – Electric Twilight
09 – Thrill Of The Hunt
10 – Axe And Smash
Carl Albert – lead & backing vocals
Geoff Thorpe – guitars, producer
Mark McGee – guitars, mandolin, backing vocals
Dave Starr – bass
Larry Howe – drums
BUY IT !