Vicious Rumors – Concussion Protocol (Steamhammer 2016)

Vicious Rumors has been around ever since 1979, but the mainstream hasn’t really paid much attention to them and the underground never embraced them either. Still, they’ve released a string of albums, one every few years at least.

I can kind of understand why they never broke through; the quality of music is up and down, with the 1988 release Digital Dictator as the highlight. Vicious Rumors exist in a cross section of power metal and thrash metal. Some riffs are very much in the thrash bag, as is the guitar sound. The arrangement and melodic elements have more in common with European power metal acts such as Rhapsody or Rage. The vocals is also a major reason why I’m thinking European, Nick Holleman sounds a lot like Peavy Wagner (Rage) in his melodic voice. I wish he would utilize his gruffer voice more, it’s really good.

This album has some great moments; I love the opening riff of the title track. It’s fast and powerful, and sets a tone for the rest of the record. Mid tempo and powerful riffs are the main components of this record. One of my main issues are the fact that they sort of keep to the rule of one good riff per song. A lot of the verses and choruses are pestered with boring guitars and subpar vocal melodies, broken up by some great riff and / or melodic guitar parts. Last of our Kind has an absolute killer riff, but the rest of the song doesn’t deliver.

Concussion Protocol mostly sits in a mid tempo chug, with some tempo shifts into a faster pace. In my personal opinion they sound best when they get really heavy, with the rather slow tempos, like in the song Bastards, which varies between an almost doomy atmosphere to mid tempo and then to a rather fast middle section, one of my favorite tracks.

There isn’t that much of a melodic edge to the album, but sometimes they let the guitars shine. The intro to Last of our Kind has a nice Thin Lizzy sounding melodic intro. There is some stellar lead work sprinkled out across the album, most impressive might be the soli on Every Blessings is a Curse, especially with the trading off between the guitarists.

The album is a great work soundtrack. It’s loud enough to drown out my coworkers and  unintrusive enough to allow me to concentrate on my work.

If you like the mid tempo chug, than this album is for you. I think the vocals kind of lack a little energy and are slick in a way. I wish he would do his lower register more, where he really shines, listen to the final track, Life for Life, and hear for yourselves.

Recommended tracks: Every Blessing is a Curse, Bastards

Rating: 3/5