Vicious Rumors – Concussion Protocol

‘Soldiers Of the Night’ with guitar virtuose Vinnie Moore spinned a lot of rounds on my record player in the mid eigthies.  Perhaps still their best and for sure most famous release till date is ‘Digital Dictator’. I did have a copy of that album on cassette, with Yngwie Malmsteen’s ‘Odyssey’ on the B-side. That cassette was played to pieces in our car during a holiday with a girlfriend to the Isle Texel, at the end of the eighties. Albums with a story and some fine memories keep hanging around in your head till you die. Vicious Rumors stood and again stands for pure U.S. power metal with good riffs, fine melodies, good written songs and an excellent singer. Especially the voice of Carl Albert (R.I.P.) on the album ‘Digital Dictator’ made me love this music. Vicious Rumors was a new rising star and the big label Atlantic signed them. A few more good albums followed, but then in 1995 due to a tragic accident Carl Albert died. After that a lot of albums followed, with sometimes Geoff Thorpe (guitars) as only original member left. With every new album there was a new vocalist, but there has been no one that could match up to Carl or could bring the music again on a higher level. Now I must say that on a lot of albums the song writing of Geoff didn’t reach the same level as on the first albums either. After a few minor albums the first one that showed again some progress was ‘Warball’ with James Rivera on vocals. But due to his very recognizable and unique singing style, he put a rather big stamp on the music and sometimes I forgot that it was an album of Vicious Rumors and not of one of his other bands.

After that ‘Razorback Killers’ and ‘Electric Punishment’ followed with Brian Allen singing on both albums. Finally two albums with the same vocalist, but then suddenly in 2013 Vicious Rumors played with a new singer in their line-up, the young Dutchman Nick Holleman. I read a story on the internet that Brian Allen didn’t even know he wasn’t in the band any more and also had to get the message reading it on the internet. If so, that is of course not so decent of bandleader Geoff, but there are always two sides of a story, so I am not going to judge about that. Fact is, that Nick has been doing the vocals in the band since then and that he debutes on this full-length studio album. If he will be the band’s singer for years to follow, I don’t know because Nick is also still singing in Powerized, Methusalem and he also did some live shows with Sinbreed.


I hope he will stay with Vicious Rumors, because his variable singing style sticks good to the music. On the new album the band returns even a bit more to their early more melodic power metal style. Opener “Concussion Protocol” sounds a lot like Judas Priest and Nick immediately puts a stamp on it by using a nice aggressive singing style. The guitars sound heavy and thrashy and the solos are excellent and melodic as always. The drums of veteran Larry Howe sound a bit clinical at times, but are very tight and solid. The high tempo goes on with “Chemical Slaves” and Nick shows that his voice varies from low (almost growling) to high to aggressive without a single problem. “Vicitims Of A Digital World” is much slower and is supported by a low thrash riff. With “Chasing the Priest” the strength of a good sing a long refrain is underlined. This will be a great live track for sure. It almost leans towards thrash, because of the aggressive almost grunting parts and the very heavy riffs. Together with Geoff Thorpe, Thaen Rasmussen is responsable for the guitars and the bass parts are taken care of by Tilen Hudrap (Paradox). For the band I hope that this line-up will be a consistent one because it really works on ‘Concussion Protocol’.

The (power) ballad “Circle Of Secrets” follows and here you can hear that Nick is really a good vocalist. The building up of the song sometimes reminds me of Metal Church. “Take It Or Leave It” has a shout a long refrain ideal for gigs and will certainly work out fine for fans that like a more teutonic power metal style. Like on the whole album the shredding guitars and melodic solos are first class and Geoff and Thaen show their skills. “Bastards” is again a bit slower, but does remind me of their early years and songs like “Down to the Temple”. Speed metal is next with “Every Blessing Is A Curse”; double bass drumming, high aggressive screams and virtuose finger licking guitar solos and shreds. The closing song “Life For A Life” is not a typical Vicious Rumors song. I still don’t know what to think of it. A rather dark song with an almost spoken low singing style creating a kind of Tiamat atmosphere. I just don’t hope the next album will be full with songs in this style.

After listening a few more times I have to confess that for me it will be in my top 5 Vicious Rumors albums. I also think that Nick Holleman is the most suitable singer for the band since Carl Albert, I don’t say he is better than the others, but he just manages to sing in different styles which make the songs better. The only thing I’m not really happy about are the bit static drums and the closing track. Final conclusion is that Vicious Rumors returns with a very good album that their fans will adore for sure.


01. Concussion Protocol
02. Chemical Slaves
03. Victims Of A Digital World
04. Chasing the Priest
05. Last Of Our Kind
06. 1000 Years
07. Circle Of Secrets
08. Take It Or Leave It
09. Bastards
10. Every Blessing Is A Curse
11. Life For A Life

Playing time: 50:00

Release date: 26 August 2016

Label: Steamhammer/SPV


Reinier de Vries
About Reinier de Vries 188 Articles
Once a metal head, always a metalhead. My parents thought it would only be a period, but they were wrong. I quit to explain the beauty of metal music to others that are not into metal, because it is something you can't tell in words... It is like explaining to a teetotaller why a cold beer is so nice on a hot day... I started with bands like Accept, Metal Church, Iron Maiden and Metallica in the eighties and I think I will still listen to them when I'm stone deaf and old...

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