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Vicious Rumors: The Atlantic Years, 3CD

By the time US power metal outfit Vicious Rumours signed with Atlantic Records they had already built themselves a growing reputation through their first two albums, released via Shrapnel Records, and an impressive live show. The band, formed round guitarist Geoff Thorpe, who leads them to this very day, by this stage had found arguably their classic line-up, with singer Carl Albert, second guitarist Mark McGee, bassist Dave Starr and drummer Larry Howe a beautifully brutal, yet melodic outfit who knew exactly how to hammer home their advantage.

The very fact that Vicious Rumours had been signed to Shrapnel in their early days will signal to anyone who remembers that record label, that this was an outfit with guitar prowess to burn - after all, Vinnie Moore had also been one of the shredders on their debut album. However, signing with Atlantic felt like a second beginning, with their first release through the major label in 1990 simply called Vicious Rumours. With a sound heavier than most of the other US power metal acts around at the time (and much more grown up than their European counterparts), this self titled effort was an uncompromising beast filled to the brim with mid-paced hammer-smashes of rifffola that didn’t just hit the spot, but nigh on obliterated it. In Albert the band had a vocalist more than capable of matching the bombast, and whether through the slightly more refined “Can You Hear It” or the go for the throat explosions of “World Church”, “Ship Of Fools” (which borrows heavily from “In The Court Of The Crimson King” for its opening) or the near thrash meets Judas Priest of “Hellraiser”, never once does he falter. With the six-string duo of Thorpe and McGhee thoroughly thrilling at every stage, it made for a potent mix.

The band’s second Atlantic album, Welcome To The Ball, through a slightly dryer production courtesy of, as the previous album also had been, Michael Rosen alongside the band’s the two guitarists, if anything, is an even more confident blast of US power metal with a dash of thrash and slice of traditional heavy metal. Right from the opening “Abandoned”, the juggernaut rhythms from Starr and Howe set the course for Thorpe and McGhee to not just follow, but soar to the gods. An absolute masterclass in riffs and solos, it’s a tremendous way to blast things off and Albert doesn’t waste the opportunity, giving one of his most commanding performances ever. From “You Only Live Twice” and the grinding “Dust To Dust”, via “Six Stepsisters” and the more varied “Mastermind”, dazzling, daring delights arrive at every turn. Leaving Welcome To The Ball to confirm that Vicious Rumours really should have been destined for the big leagues.

The live album, Plug In And Hang On - Live In Tokyo, completes this neat little reissue set from Cherry Red/HNE, confirming through a selection of tracks from across not just the two studio albums here, but also 1985’s Soldiers Of The Night and its legendary 1988 follow-up Digital Dictators, that this band were indeed as vicious in the live arena as they had proved to be in the studio. Albert really comes alive, with a vibrancy in his vocal attack that his studio sound only ever hinted at, while Thorpe and McGhee really tear up every solo and riff like their very lives depended on it.

On this strength, only great things could beckon, but as is so often the case, fate intervened, with Thorpe being diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome. His resultant surgery took the band off the scene for a year and when they returned, their record deal with Atlantic was no more. Bassist Dave Starr then left, with a further two excellent albums arriving as the band began to rebuild a strong following outside of the US. However there’s little doubt that it was the tragic death of singer Carl Albert in a car accident in 1995 that derailed Vicious Rumours, guitarist Mark McGhee leaving the band not long after.

Mega-stardom possibly eluded Vicious Rumours but they have, even with those tumultuous events, continued to release excellent albums at regular intervals right up to the current day. For many however, it is their early releases that really hit the mark, and with The Atlantic Years 3CD set, you’re left in little doubt as to why.

Track Listing
CD 1 - Vicious Rumors

1. Don’t Wait For Me
2. World Church
3. On The Edge
4. Ship Of Fools
5. Can You Hear It
6. Down To The Temple
7. Hellraiser
8. Electric Twilight
9. Thrill of the Hunt
10. Axe and Smash

CD 2 - Welcome To The Ball

1. Abandoned
2. You Only Live Twice
3. Savior From Anger
4. Children
5. Dust To Dust
6. Raise Your Hands
7. Strange Behavior
8. Six Stepsisters
9. Mastermind
10. When Love Comes Down
11. Ends of the Earth

CD 3 - Plug In And Hang On �" Live in Tokyo

1. Abandoned (Live in Tokyo)
2. Savior From Anger (Live in Tokyo)
3. Down To The Temple (Live in Tokyo)
4. Ship of Fools (Live in Tokyo)
5. Lady Took A Chance (Live in Tokyo)
6. When Love Comes Down (Live in Tokyo)
7. March or Die (Live in Tokyo)
8. Don’t Wait For Me (Live in Tokyo)

Added: October 1st 2022
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Vicious Rumours @ Cherry Red
Hits: 242
Language: english

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