"Electric Punishment"

By Dr. Abner Mality

Before writing this, I went back and listened to Vicious Rumors' previous album "Razorback Killers", which narrowly missed being my favorite record of 2010.  Is "Electric Punishment" better than "Razorback Killers"? It's a question that I might go back and forth on a dozen times, but one thing I can tell you: it is the perfect follow-up and it proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that Vicious Rumors is one of the best in the world.

Wow, this is incredible! The band claim that this is just as heavy as "Razorback Killers", yet more diverse and varied. And they nailed that right on the head. The album has those energetic high speed ass-kickers like "Black X List", "D Block" and "Thirst For a Kill" that we've come to expect from the band. Veteran guitarist Thaen Rasmussen, who has been in the California metal scene since Anvil Chorus and its opening days, joins Geoff Thorpe to create an axe-burning fret attack that will fry your eardrums. But this time around, the variation in style is more pronounced. The title track eschews speed to deliver a solid mid-tempo assault. Vocalist Brian Allen, already a fantastic talent, demonstrates a lower singing style that's not a growl but different from his clear, high vocals. He doesn't overdo it, he uses just when it does the most good!

I really like "Together We Unite", another mid-tempo anthem that almost has a happy sound to it, with oodles of slicing lead work and a catchy chorus. It kind of reminds me of "Down To The Temple" from their self-titled album all those years ago. "Escape From Hell" is a monumetal metal ballad that is an archetype of how these type of songs should be done, with a lot of atmosphere, a speedy part and a massive chorus. Great stuff! We also get a cool Kiss cover of the song "Strange Ways", where Allen gets to use more of that deeper, gruffer style.

Well, every track on "Razorback Killers" was a monster and that holds true for "Electric Punishment" as well. How many classics will this band need to turn out before they get their rightful due and join the likes of Iron Maiden and Megadeth at the top of the heap? This album is FAR better than anything those bands have done recently. Only the fact that the cover is uncomfortably close to Overkill's "The Electricc Age" adds the slightest touch of negativity here.

Vicious Rumors is definitely the standard-bearer for true metal in the 21st century.