“Celebration Decay”

By Dr. Abner Mality

It has got to be the sheer love of metal that keeps VICIOUS RUMORS so active. It sure can’t be albums sales or crowds at live shows. I saw them play in front of about 30 people in Milwaukee. What a shame that is, because they are consistently one of the better power/thrash bands from America, with close to 40 years of experience behind them.

“Celebration Decay” is the latest VR effort. Core members Geoff Thorpe and Larry Howe remain, but everybody else is shuffled again, including new vocalist Nick Courtney, who has quite a different sound than past singers. That’s the main adjustment longtime fans have to make here. You can hear the difference right off the bat on the lead off title track, as Courtney has a deeper, growlier voice than the higher pitched classic metal singers of the past. Let’s face it, everybody suffers in comparison to the late great Carl Albert, one of the best metal singers PERIOD. But Nick’s range is great and he also delivers those Tate/Halford style vocals as well. That title track kicks things off with a bang and I don’t have any trouble calling this a thrash metal cut, albeit a classy and melodic one. That fast and heavy approach continues with the next couple songs “Pulse of the Dead” and “Arrival of Desolation”. Frankly, the music is much the same as the last few VR records and it does sound predictable. But the lead guitar work of Thorpe and new guy Gunnar duGray is stunning and faultless as always...the main point of attraction throughout. Few bands can shred like VICIOUS RUMORS.

Starting with “Darkness Divine”, the album begins to slow down into more traditional heavy metal sounds. That track owes a lot to METAL CHURCH’s semi-ballads and Courtney’s range is demonstrated. “Long Way Home” is more of a medium paced cruncher. “Death Eternal” is a huge and soaring epic, with unusual multi-tracked vocals that reminds me of another great US metal band, MALICE. “Collision Course Disaster” again speeds things up to the thrash realm and the album ends with “Masquerade of Good Intentions”, which is redolent of the heavier QUEENSRYCHE.

It’s another strong blast of metal from a band that deserves a lot more coverage and respect than they’re getting.