Vicious Rumors - Concussion Protocol - (8/10)
Published on September 22, 2016
It is kind of ironic to see one of US power metal’s longest standing veterans see more and more Europeans join their ranks. With Slovenian bassist Tilen Hudrap and Dutch singer Nick Holleman, Geoff Thorpe has brought in new blood since their 2013 album Electric Punishment and as so often in the past few years, fans approach a new Vicious Rumors with more reservation that they are comfortable with. Ever since the untimely passing of Carl Albert, the singer position in the band has been a revolving door, with seven different vocalists manning the mic before Holleman entered the fray, now for the first time heard on Concussion Protocol.
And the post-Albert output has been spotty as well, with some high and some low lights, showing a band clearly struggling with the legacy of their outstanding early years (see Soldiers of the Night, Digital Dictator and Welcome to the Ball). Now Concussion Protocol, the band’s eleventh studio effort, has rolled around and it has turned out to be a beast of an album, kicked off by the rapid-fire title track that has power galore and has the potential to level anything in its path and Holleman shows right from the get-go that he is the maybe most able and fitting VR vocalist since Albert left the planet in 1994 with a vicious vocal attack fitting the aggressive music.
And the Californians fire on all cylinders on the new album, with “Chemical Slaves”, “Chasing the Priest”, “1000 Years” or “Every Blessing is a Curse” further underline the album’s powerhouse character and with that they remind of the old classics again. “Victims of a Digital World” shakes things up a little with its mid-paced stomp, but it also lacks some of the spark that lights up the rest of the album. Groovy “Last of Our Kind”, though, together with ballad “Circle of Secrets” steer the ship into safe waters again.
Rarely have Vicious Rumors evoked memories of the Albert-fronted classics as much as on Concussion Protocol! The riffing, the melodies, the vocals, almost everything sounds more inspired than most of what the Americans had come up with in the last few years. It is amazing to see how many “old” bands are either coming back or are continuing to churn out high quality metal. Even though some people had wondered about it in the past, with Concussion Protocol Vicious Rumors show they still have plenty of relevance in this day and age and now if they went on tour with Metal Church again, they could recreate the magic of the 1995 Ultimate Power Force tour (with Killers and Zodiac Mindwarp back then) for a killer line up!