REVIEW: VICIOUS RUMORS – “Celebration Decay”
One of the very first bands I got into as a kid, Vicious Rumors had just lost the legendary Carl Albert at the time and released the good ‘Something Burning’ (1996) with guitarist and leader Geoff Thorpe on vocals. While the USPM monsters have never been the same since Carl Albert tragically passed away in 1995, one year after the release of ‘Word of Mouth’, Thorpe and crew were always consistent in their releases and managed to keep relevant since the 1980s.
‘Celebration Decay’ is their 13th full length and shows a return to roots of sorts, mainly a side-effect of the band’s latest tour to celebrate 30 years of the iconic ‘Digital Dictator’ (1988), one of the best power metal albums of all time, in my opinion. The album feels dynamic and energetic, and the going into contact with so many classic tunes from the past did wonders for the Americans, especially to Thorpe’s unique riffing and to newcomer Gunnar Dügrey’s growth.
From classic Vicious Rumors approach in songwriting such as “Pulse Of The Dead”, “Arrival Of Desolation”, “Death Eternal” and “Collision Course Disaster” to less orthodox moments like “Darkness Divine” – which is more groovy – the band has successfully rescued a lot of their heydays and added to a more modern sound.
Even the less-memorable songs like “Long Way Home” add good value to the record. There may be the occasional passable moment like the aforementioned track, but they never let things get out of hand; for instance, following “Long Way Home” is “Cold Blooded”, a brutal slab of catchy heavy/power metal that is catchy and strong at the same time.
The guitar work is nothing short of masterful; the riffs are crunchy and fill the whole speakers, and the solos are inspired. The backup provided by Robin Utbult (bass) is top-notch, but the real star here is Larry Howe, who completely obliterates his drum kit nonstop, even making some passages sound like a power/thrash mix. Nick Courtney was a great addition as well, as he’s able to transition from a more melodic, high-pitched vocal line to harsh, aggressive growls with ease; he’s the best frontman Vicious Rumors had since the legendary James Rivera on ‘Warball’ (2006).
It’s clear to me that Geoff Thorpe and the team have given a lot of thought into making the best possible effort they could. This feels organic, powerful, and, most importantly, feels like Vicious Rumors. Easily their best album since 2006, ‘Celebration Decay’ is an ode to the best days of USPM with a little touch of the modern style, and will definitely please every metalhead who hears it. Highly recommended.