Vicious Rumors – “Celebration Decay” (Steamhammer / SPV)
Battle Helm Rating
Releasing their milestone debut “Soldiers Of The Night” in 1985 that is still considered a classic US power metal release, 41 years on, Vicious Rumors issue their 13th studio album, that according to founder guitarist Geoff Thorpe ‘… is a kind of best-of-both-worlds recording…’ taking in classic numbers as well as songs that hint at the band’s future. Forged during the band’s tour of the 30th anniversary of 1988’s “Digital Dictator” release that saw the initial 20 gigs jump to 108 shows in the end (!), the opportunity for the new line up to grow into a really tight outfit wasn’t overlooked and neither were the daily occurrences of the band coming into contact with their early influences as a result of playing their classics. As such, “Celebration Decay” is a combination of these factors, and the 11 songs here very much reflect that. Joining Thorpe and “Soldiers Of The Night” drummer Larry Howe, are new discoveries in 20 year old virtuoso guitarist Gunnar Dügrey and lead vocalist Nick Courtney, along with special guest bassist Greg Christian (Testament, Trauma), whose renowned presence brings a massive rhythm along with Howe. Blasting in with the title track ‘Celebration Decay’, complete with air raid siren, the heavy clanging riffs and wailing neo classical melodies detonate as Courtney’s diverse range of cleaning singing, harsher vocals and powering highs deliver poignant lines like ‘…father forgive me, but who forgives you..’ amid guitar squeals and tremolo wails in the build-up to the almighty chorus of ‘…welcome famine…welcome hate…extermination…is our fate…’- nice! With some touching acoustics heralding ‘Darkness Divine’, Courtney adds in his own deep drawl before the song takes off epically through resounding power chords and heartfelt melodies in fine contrast, while the thick rhythm definitely adds in its ominous effect as Thorpe and Dügrey spiral off their solos in fine style. On ‘Death Eternal’ another epic power melody immediately grabs you as do the old school melodies and wailing virtuoso breaks, not forgetting Courtney’s soprano highs as they take you right back to “Soldiers Of The Night” on this magnificent trip back to the days of Shrapnel Records – a definite treat for long-time fans! With Howe’s double bass drums speeding along to Christian’s neck snapping bass, ‘Collision Course Disaster’ displays the impressive mix of heaviness and melodic beauty that is the signature style of this timeless band, as Courtney’s harsher tones collide with the unforgettable twin guitar wailing bliss to cap off this brilliant album, which is an absolute winner from start to glorious finish.