For a band that has been around since 1980 and released 10 albums in those 21 years, Vicious Rumors is not really a name that pops up when one thinks of legendary metal bands. This is most unfortunate, as this IS a legendary metal band, and I think some more recognition is in order. Razorback Killers is their 10th and most recent album, and it offers up a delicious dog’s breakfast of thrash, power, and heavy metal!
The California quartet has gone under some major changes since its inception, having over 25 “past members” (according to the Metal Archives anyway) including Ira Black (Lizzy Borden), Vinnie Moore, Steve Smyth (Forbidden, Testament, Nevermore), Will Carroll (Death Angel, Machine Head) and James Rivera (Helstar, Killing Machine, Flotsam and Jetsam).
Stylistically, this album is a real mash up of heavy, power and thrash metal. Much of the energy that is displayed in the performances is very familiar in a heavy metal sense. However, the song writing displays a level of melodic maturity that is often seen within the power metal scene. As well, much ferocity is displayed in a very thrash oriented manner, especially in the vocals.
The aforementioned vocals, supplied by Brian Allen, are usually a melodic scream reminiscent of Dickinson or Halford, doesn’t emanate either. While being quite thrashy one moment, he easily switches to a high falsetto many times throughout the album. A layering technique is also audible and quite present, creating an almost evil sound. The guitars are melodic as well as crushing, and provide a dynamic approach that makes the entire work entertaining. Solos, which are featured on nearly every song, are melodic, yet have enough “balls to the wall” power to make them head-bangable. Drumming is pretty typical, but adds some extra punch, just when any song needs it.
Despite being quite derivative (even if it is of many styles) and named after pig slayers, Razorback Killers is a magnificent offering of metal, and will appeal to any metal head.
Claus’ Rating 4.25/5