• 10/10
    VICIOUS RUMORS - Warball - 10/10


Mascot Records
Release date: October 15, 2006

User Review
0/10 (0 votes)

Life was never easy for Vicious Rumors, but perhaps it has been particularly hard since the unfortunate passing of vocalist Carl Albert back in 1995. Universally adored by the Metal community, Albert’s shoes would naturally prove impossible to fill. Guitarist Mark McGee, long-time guitar sparring partner of founder Geoff Thorpe, left around the same time frame. Several albums followed, none of them bad as such, but they were all a far cry of reaching the standard fans had come to associate with the name Vicious Rumors, and, although the band has remained a powerful live act (as witnessed on last year’s Crushing The World DVD release), their existence became more along the lines of living under the shadow of its past, rather than drawing strength off of current material.

In the latter half of 2005, Thorpe decided to rebuild the band by once again drafting in drummer Larry Howe (who left the band in 1999) and bassist Dave Starr (who was asked to leave prior to the recording of Word Of Mouth back in 1993), thereby putting the nucleus of the classic line-up back. To further tickle fans expectations, legendary vocalist James Rivera (of Helstar, ex-Destiny’s End, ex-Seven Witches, Distant Thunder, Killing Machine, fame) joined. After a failed attempt at also bringing back McGee, the band caused somewhat of a sensation amongst the public by adding guitar hero Brad Gillis (Night Ranger, ex-Ozzy Osbourne) to the rejuvenated Vicious Rumors line-up.

Sometime during the making of the new CD, though, Gillis’ role in the band no longer seemed stable, and he is listed as a special guest, splitting guitar duties with Thaen Rasmussen (Anvil Chorus), who now looks to be the official second guitarist. A majority of the guitar work is handled by Thorpe this time, however, and he also remains the main songwriter, with help from Rivera and Howe.

A possible concern has been how Rivera’s voice, being different to that of previous singers, would fit into the Vicious Rumors formula, or would said formula need to be altered? The truth is Warball very much takes on tried and tested territory, but it’s also forward-thinking for the vocalist and band alike.

After a few seconds into opening track “Sonic Rebellion,” those slight concerns are shattered to pieces. Patented Vicious Rumors backing vocals follows Rivera’s instant identifiable high-pitch in this fast, aggressive track that lasts under three minutes. It’s indeed classic Vicious Rumors style, but leased with new life. It’s been many crying moons since Vicious Rumors came across this hungry in their delivery. “Mr. Miracle” has a traditional Heavy Metal rhythm, with a fist-pounding chorus and wild, soaring leads, adding to the proceedings. “Dying Every Day” starts with a haunting intro before leading into an atmospheric musical landscape, driven by Howe’s powerhouse drumming. Just when it appears to be ending, another lead guitar comes out of nowhere, further heightening the intensity. “Immortal” sees Rivera stretching out, putting his register to good use … he screams and grunts as well as sings in mid-register throughout this steady track, before holding out with a chilling Halford-like pitch towards the end.

The title track is a doomy affair that, though it features a thunderous intro and a grand approach, still comes across as the “weakest” track, a bit inferior to some of the stronger material on display, but no complaining to write home about. The melancholy ballad “Windows Of Memories” serves as a breather on this otherwise (for the most part) overwhelmingly heavy album, with “A Ghost Within” being perhaps the heaviest track of them all. “Crossthreaded” is the most-anthemic number on offer; think classic Balls To The Wall-era Accept for reference. Starr serves a thick platform for the guitars during the main riff. The vocal approach of Thorpe is totally different and much darker to that of Rivera, as he takes over the vocal duties on this track, whereas it sets great contrast as the two share vocals on “Oceans Of Rage.” “Wheels Of Madness,” musically, if not lyrically, is a very up-tempo, feel-good affair that very much emphasizes how vital Vicious Rumors actually are in 2006.

The album brings back much of the magic that was spawned by the Carl Albert-fronted, classic formation of the band. Moreover, the production itself, handled by Thorpe and Juan J. Urteaga, is probably Vicious Rumors’ most powerful to date, certainly clearer than has been the case for the last decade. Each instrument is allowed to shine on the spot, pointing out its importance for the overall sound scheme.

Warball is a ruthless Heavy Metal attack, with screaming, whacky guitars all-present, that never lets up. Due to the guest spots of Gillis and Rasmussen, and Thorpe handling most of the guitars, the twin guitar concept still does not have the unified, compensated aspect it used to have with McGee, but, due to the strong performances, that is a minor complaint. Make no mistake, take no prisoners — Vicious Rumors are back!


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