What a nice surprise we have here. US power metal veterans Vicious Rumors are back with their 13th studio album, which will be released this coming Friday, August 21st. Formed 41 years ago by the only original remaining band member – guitarist Geoff Thorpe, these Californians have always been waving the flag of guitar-driven heavy metal, with just the right touch of thrash and even progressive metal thrown in.
Ever since the tragic loss of their legendary front man Carl Albert in 1995, the band has been searching for the best possible vocalist to roar over their trademark wall of guitar riffs. The new vocalist Nick Courtney has joined Vicious Rumors two years ago and Celebration Decay is his first studio recording. The second guitar player Gunnar DüGrey is another relatively new addition to the line-up with a studio debut. As Geoff told us in the recent interview, the new album is unique in that it was the only time the band enters the studio after it has already completed a whole tour together. The amount of work and devotion all band members have put in is evident straight from the ferocious title-track, which opens the album. This song, along with the ultra-heavy groover “Asylum Of Blood” is where I felt a really strong late-era Testament vibe. Don’t get me wrong, Vicious Rumors have not suddenly turned full-on thrash metal, but Celebration Decay could easily be the heaviest they’ve ever sounded.
The album features three absolute thrash bombs placed at the start and as the closing two tracks. Sandwiched between these three are predominantly mid-tempo, dense US heavy metal style bulldozers, like “Arrival Of Desolation”, “Any Last Words” and the album centerpiece “Darkness Divine”. The latter is the most musically adventurous track in the new album and puts beautifully on display the great array of nuances in the Vicious Rumors sound. Nick Courtney is absolutely one of the most diverse singers the band has had and the guy impresses with his performance throughout. It must also be mentioned that drum powerhouse Larry Howe (who is the longest-running band member besides Thorpe) is also at top level here.
The solos and dual guitar harmonies of Thorpe and new guy DüGrey are a delight to listen to – the sound of these two is devastating. This is real heavy metal from the heart, my friends. It is also amazing that Vicious Rumors are not only still here, after more than four decades, but with their best album in 25 years at the least.