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Vicious Rumors - Warball

By Michael Fischer, Writer, Cartoonist
Sunday, February 25, 2007 @ 8:47 AM

GTM Worldwide Records

- advertisement -
- advertiseclment -
The Ball is Back!!! Warball’s on, and it’s born again hard!

Vicious Rumors new CD Warball is a Beast! It’s fierce, exciting, and rocks with straight ahead vengeance and force! Warball is one of the most powerful rock CD”s I’ve heard in a long time! It’s one of those CD’s you hold in your hand, gaze at the cover art, read the song titles on the back and just know It’s going to deliver. Warball should come with a warning label that says, “Do not operate heavy machinery while listening to this CD!”

When I first moved to the west coast in 1987, I discovered three of California’s best kept secrets. In n’ Out Burger, KNAC FM Radio and the mighty Vicious Rumors! This band has done so many awesome things over the years, and still continues to inspire. VR represents passion, perseverance, and power. Vicious Rumors easily stands along side all of rocks heavy hitters, and has been touring since the mid 1980s earning their bones in the Santa Rosa California rock scene eventually breaking into the LA club scene, Europe, and Japan by 1990. Vicious Rumors has endured time, and tragedy and continued to remain a working unit despite more band member changes than the Allman Brothers and Ozzy. Since 1985, VR has released a catalogue of material that could annihilate a large country with tunes like “On the Edge, and “Hell Raiser”>.

There has never been a rock band that matched the thrill of going to see Vicious Rumors live. You talk about power. The best way to explain a Vicious Rumors show is they’re like a Sherman Battle Tank on a roller coaster! Just add screaming vocals, guitar tone from hell, and the drummer from the Muppets and you have Vicious Rumors. The hunger and addiction to VR’s music can be compared to the way kids salivate for a new Sony Playstation 3 or a drunk wino for wine. Vicious Rumors has always kept the quality control level of the band and the music high. Since the loss of their singer Carl Albert in 1995 in a fatal automobile accident. Vicious Rumors has been superb, but never quite sounded the same without Carl and the spark of the original band members that created the original VR sound. VR has never sounded the same, until now with the release of Warball. Rumors fans delight! Guitarist Geoff Thorpe has reunited with original founding VR members, drummer Larry Howe and Dave Starr to recreate the Vicious Rumors sound we all live to die for. Carl Albert would be very proud of Warball. Carl’s spirit is very instrumental in the making of this record.

Vicious Rumors Warball is: Vocals James Rivera (Flotsam & Jetsam), Lead Guitarist/Vocals Geoff Thorpe, Bass Player Dave Starr, and Larry Howe on Drums. Warball also features several blazing special guest solos from Guitarist Brad Gillis (Ozzy) and touring Lead Guitarist Thaen Rasmussen (Anvil Chorus).

Warball Tracklisting:

    Track 1. Sonic Rebellion... 2:54 - ( G. Thorpe/L. Howe )
    Track 2. Mr. Miracle... 4:50 - ( G. Thorpe/J. Rivera/L. Howe )
    Track 3. Dying Everyday... 4:45 - ( G. Thorpe/J. Rivera/L. Howe )
    Track 4. Immortal... 3:45 - G. Thorpe/J. Rivera/L. Howe )
    Track 5. Warball... 6:20 - ( G. Thorpe/J. Rivera )
    Track 6. Crossthreaded... 4:44 - ( G. Thorpe )
    Track 7. Wheels of Madness... 3:45 - ( G. Thorpe/J. Rivera/L. Howe )
    Track 8. Windows of Memory... 3:04 - ( J. Rivera/G. Thorpe )
    Track 9. A Ghost Within... 4:55 - G. Thorpe/J. Rivera/L. Howe )
    Track 10. Ocean of Fire... 3:38 - ( G. Thorpe/J. Rivera/L. Howe )

Recorded, mixed and mastered by Geoff Thorpe and Juan J. Urteaga at Trident Studios in Pancheco, California in 2006. Warball has unbelievable sound quality! Just before entering the recording studio. James, Geoff and Larry began writing, and arranging these songs. As the material progressed, they brought in Dave and James to finish. Geoff played all the guitars on Warball with the exception of guest solos by Brad Gillis who appeared on tracks 1 through 4, and track 9. Thaen Rasmussen played solo”s on tracks 2, 7 and 8.

The first thing that really catches your eye about Warball is the amazing cover art by Graphic Designer Paul Korde. The infamous Phantasm style knifed chrome ball has appeared on all Vicious Rumors record covers and is a clear warning of what’s inside. The VR Ball Logo originally had four knife blades, and over the years it now has eight. All song lyrics are printed inside along with gallery portrait pictures of the band snarling and sporting their tools of destruction, (for example Geoff”s White Randy Rhoads Charvel Jackson).

Track One: “Sonic Rebellion” is an excellent opening song! When you buy a metal record, your eager the first tune will take you on a ride. Sonic certainly does that. It’s an eye opener and just romps with Larry’s double bass magic! Warball moves well, and it sounds hauntingly like the original vintage Vicious Rumors material with Carl (RIP) singing. Warball sounds like where VR might have began after they left off with Welcome to the Ball in 1991. It’s been a while since I’ve heard a pure rock record like this. It takes off from the beginning like wild fire. And you think to yourself “Hell yeah, this is going to be a good one!” Sonic is fast, and the lyrics are dead on singing about rebelling these troubled times. “Louder than hellion, Sonic Rebellion, Faster the toxic that bleeds in your mind, Sonic Rebellion, the best of the best, the last of our kind.” Sonic the first song on Warball is easily a ten on the Richter scale, and like all VR records, they never disappoint from the time you put in the CD and press play.

Another thing I love about Warball is the massive take no prisoners guitar solos! Killer solos are everywhere on this record! In a day an age of new rock nomads and pussy ass college kids whining about long guitar solos and the way we do things. It’s refreshing to hear the best rock guitar work I’ve heard in years. Warball is similar in flavor to Judas Priest’s Angel of Retribution with more thrills. I can listen to a Vicious Rumors album so many more times than Judas Priest record. VR excites more, and moods less. The guitar sound on Warball is unbelievable. It’s thick and Geoff”s open G power chords bite very similar in tone to Randy Rhoads guitar sound on Diary of a Madman.

Track two: “Mr. Miracle” is an awesome song! It compliments the record like a Steak and Stripper hand-job combo. Especially after hearing the first tune. Mr. Miracle has a Stained Class style guitar intro and the chorus vocal melody “Beware Mr. Miracle, beware Mr. Magical” is a super rock hook. This tune wields some vintage VR writing tricks, mixing half time parts with the faster main rhythm of the song. The song flows well and like track one, just adds to the hunger to hear more of this CD. It’s great to hear a ripping guitar solo with double bass leading out of song like Mr. Miracle. If you like slow, low tuned depressing music, sorry you’ll have to go buy another record. This material is for pure rock lovers!

Track Three: “Dying Every Day” is one of my favorite songs on this record and one of the best rock anthems Vicious Rumors has recorded since Down to the Temple in 1990. This song hauntingly begins in low E minor with clean electric and acoustic guitars layered with tonal voicings leading into the opening crunchy guitar riff. This is not a fast song; it digs in and has a chunking walking rhythm combined with Larry's double bass and Dave's eight string bass. Dying Every Day has enormous feel and more great hooks with a catchy chorus. VR can rip your throat out with fast material; some of their best sounding songs are slower rock anthem tunes like Dying Every Day. Again James Rivera's vocals sound like Carl’s spirit inhabited his soul for this song. The middle guitar solo in this song is tasteful, harmonic, has demonic delay and mirror’s early 1994 VR solos off Word of Mouth like No Fate and Sense of Security! Hang onto your socks, because there’s a smoking solo at the end of this tune. VR song formulas break all the current, tired rock formatted song rules. VR takes great pride in growing their hair and playing a lot of solos if everyone else is going to puss out.

Track Four: “Immortal” is straight ahead and a classic from the first guitar riff and punches. Immortal sounds very Digital Dictator inspired just tearing along the land like an out of control Terminator Machine on a mission. A mission to stomp your ass! The double bass chorus of this song rivals any thing you’ve ever heard Judas Priest do. “I’m the immortal, fire and rage, I’m the immortal, power and pain!” Songs like this, can get you a speeding ticket if your not careful. This song is easily as good as the first three.

Track Five: The title track Warball is without a doubt another one of the best songs on this record. It’s hard to say because there are so many ear candy moments on all of this record. The beginning of Warball sounds like the gates of hell crashing open as you descend into the world of Vicious Rumors. Warball’s guitar riff is crunching and slow like “Thinking of You” off their 1995 CD Word of Mouth. James’s vocals are powerful and the chorus strong on this tune. “Warball’s on, and we’re born again strong!” Once again the guitar solo is wicked, whammy barred, wah peddled and flanged like a wild tiger. Warball is a metal masterpiece and ends with some really clever sounds and Pink Floyd-style studio tricks and guitar voicings as Warball fades to silence. Watch it, track five hath fury and means business.

The first time I listened to this CD, I had to take the headphone’s off right about here to get a grip and refuel. I was pretty blown away by the material, the quality mix and fact that it sounds more like Vicious Rumors than anything they’ve recorded in over ten years. I would imagine Geoff, Dave, and Larry had a lot to do with this. I can say enough good things about the performance of singer James Rivera. He’s got some pipes.

Track Six: Crossthreaded is another choice VR rock anthem highlighting drummer Larry's solid double bass influence on this material. With Crossthreaded, here once again your romping along like something off Digital Dictator. This song rocks and It’s great to drive to! Geoff sings lead vocals on this tune and it sounds really cool and raspy mean. He sings a lot better than Gene Simmons. I’ve really dug Geoff’s vocals on the last couple VR records such as Sadistic Symphony. Crossthreaded has a great chorus and it really sticks with you afterwards like most of the material on this record.

Track Seven: Wheels of Madness is a fast song, and moves like a locomotive train. More great guitar solos and double bass fire here! It’s makes me grin, because this song sounds a lot like Carl singing and reflects VR in their raw, stripped down early days. They just had this sound that sounds like no other band along with their high level vocal and band performance. The drum mix on this CD is one of the best I’ve heard in quite sometime. The snare is whopping tight and his kick drums hit you right in the chest. Along with Dave's unique eight string bass sound and stay at home style, they’re a Rock Hall of Fame rhythm section. If this song were a fighting opponent, Wheels of Madness would keep coming at you!

Track Eight: Windows of Memory is a darker song and reminds me of Alice in Chains Jar of Flies. This tune has slow acoustic guitar in E minor weaving pitch bending vocal along with electric guitar harmonies inverting out of the verse and chorus. The lyrics are heavy and feel great loss. Singer James Rivera wrote this song dedicated to his father who passed away during the recording of Warball. This song showcases VRs ability to work with sound and dynamics doing something journey like besides beat your brains out from front to back. Windows of Memory is a very good song; I like it because the song never really resolves keys. Windows is the perfect set up for the next blistering redemption tune and my favorite song on the record entitled A Ghost Within!

Track Nine: The song A Ghost Within is the reason your a metal fan, and you’ve dedicated your whole life to growing your hair long and raising your Dio-Fingers high in the air! This song smokes balls! It’s mean, nasty, cries out and rocks your shit. Ghost is reminiscent of VRs galloping double bass classic entitled Worlds and Machines. Similar sounding to Iron Maiden’s The Trooper with more vengeance and better guitar solos. A Vicious Rumors song formula now revised, modified, reborn, and resurrected in 2007! Ghost has phat guitar riffs and a screaming chorus. “The ghost within awaits his revenge, Saints and sinners run in fear, A Ghost Within waits on no man, Time is up and he’s here to collect!” The incredible vocals sound like there was A Ghost Within James as his voice dives through a blazing roller coaster ride of words and melody that just blows you away. Songs like this make you a believer and a true fan of this record!

Track Ten: The last song on Warball is a speed metal style knuckle dragger cleverly entitled Oceans of Rage. This is the heaviest song on the record inspired by Pantera and Dimebag Darrell (RIP). Oceans has speedy verses, a massive chorus, and hard core vocals. This song is a nice sock in the jaw for the CD finale and sorta laughs back at you in the way the band wields It’s effortless ability to be tighter than nun at Sunday Church. The only complaint about Warball is, you want to hear more. Hey, if you buy it, and don’t like it, you can come back and throw it in my face!

Larry and Geoff did a fantastic job arranging this material and to recreate the original Mighty Vicious Rumors sound. This is some of the best material I’ve heard from Vicious Rumors ever! Which proves that VR keeps getting better with time. Bands these days are guilty of writing too much slow, weird, and over the top conceptual music. Vicious Rumors recommends you “Plug in and hang on!”

Etch my words in blood and stone. Vicious Rumors is, was, and always will be one of the greatest Heavy Rock Bands on the planet! Their new CD Warball is five star metal mastery and a must have for any KNAC Fan if you want to rock!

Buy Warball directly from the band at www.viciousrumors.com along with their latest DVD Crushing the World, and VR The First Ten Years, A Tribute to Carl Albert. Take the ride of a lifetime, listen and explore the amazing Vicious Rumors CD archive.


Reviewed by Michael Fischer @ www.toonsonice.com.

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