Released By: Steamhammer/SPV
Release Date: May 7, 2013
Genre: Heavy Metal/US Power Metal
Brian Allen – Vocals
Geoff Thorpe – Guitar
Stephen Goodwin – Bass
Larry Howe – Drums
1. I Am The Gun
2. Black X List
3. Electric Punishment
4. D Block
5. Escape (From Hell)
6. Dime Store Prophet
7. Together We Unite
9, Thirst For A Kill
10. Strange Ways (KISS cover version)
Over the last few years my love of all things Power Metal has only grown stronger, and while I tend to prefer the different European styles of it, I’ve also been enjoying the occasional US Power Metal album from time to time, with the latest being “Electric Punishment”, the 11th full length release from veterans Vicious Rumors, who have now been around for almost 35 years. Formed in 1979, they have gone through an insane amount of lineup changes, but founding member and guitarist Geoff Thorpe has managed to keep the band going, as the only original member left. I have no prior experience with the band, aside from hearing a couple songs from their previous album “Razorback Killers”, and thinking it sounded pretty good, but it’s quite obvious to my ears that they’re still going strong, and Thorpe has not lost any of his inspiration just yet.
As expected for a band that’s been around for so long, this is a very traditional sounding metal album with the guitar riffs being the driving force, while the songs are a mix of slower heavy metal and speedy US Power Metal, with the occasional thrash elements. Both styles work equally well for the band, and even as someone who typically prefers speed, I must admit the title track, with its slow and crushing riffs, is an absolute killer and possibly even the biggest highlight. Not only is the chorus great, but the extended instrumental section is very interesting and serves as a nice change of pace, while the main riff is simply awesome. It’s safe to say, no matter which style they play, the energy level is always very high, the guitar work is always exceptional, and there’s never a lack of memorable moments to keep the listener excited.
Right from the opening riff of “I Am The Gun”, it’s clear this is an album for fans of pure metal with an aggressive attitude, as the explosive opening track fires right out of the gate and never lets up, with the thrashiest riffs of the album. As effective as the guitar work is, another key part of the album is vocalist Brian Allen, who on his second album with the band sounds like he has been there much longer than that. He has a very powerful voice and can be very animated on the more aggressive songs, which fits in great with the overall classic feel, while on the slower songs he can sing a lot more cleanly and still sound just as good. And while songs like “I Am The Gun” and the title track don’t require that type of range at all, other songs do, especially on the later parts of the album.
On the whole, the first half is where you’ll find most of the heavier songs, as along with with the two aforementioned highlights, there’s also a pair of speedier Power Metal songs in “Black X List” and “D Block”, which keep the great riffs coming. The first real break from the heavier material comes with “Escape (From Hell”), which sounds like a ballad for the first 2/3 of its running time, before the guitar fully kicks in towards for a bit towards the end, though it does calm down again. The song works effectively as a bit of a resting point, even if it doesn’t stand out as a highlight.
Even calmer songs are found on the second half, with “Together We Unite” actually being a ballad the whole way through, and it allows Brian to really shine on a pretty fantastic chorus, making it one of my favorites. The last of these quieter songs is “Eternally”, a slow and very melodic heavy metal song, which once again shows some of the nicer qualities of Brian’s voice. But don’t worry, because even in the more melodic portion of the album there’s still two more absolute killers in “Dimestore Prophet” and “Thirst For A Kill”, with the latter bringing back some of the speed of the first half, while the former is just a lot of fun.
After a few listens my only disappointment was with the final track “Strange Ways”, which seemed a bit bland and generic, and I was left to wonder why they’d end the album with it. Well, I found out it’s a KISS cover, so knowing that I never liked KISS, it’s no surprise I’m unimpressed by this version. Though in their defense they did as good as job with the song as they could, I just don’t think I was ever going to be terribly impressed by it.
Overall, though, “Electric Punishment” proves that some bands can still produce great albums even in their later years, as there’s enough killer riffs to keep fans of traditional metal very happy, while the more melodic portion in the middle is also a nice treat. Even at this stage in their career, Vicious Rumors are still going strong, and for fans of US Power Metal and traditional Heavy Metal, this album is highly recommended.
Written by Travis
Ratings Travis 8/10