Review Summary: This live album is not just for the die-hard fans of the band.
As far as rock and metal go, bands always regarded live albums not only as tokens of appreciation towards their dedicated fan base, but also as strong statements with respect to their high moral and their current state of play. The new Vicious Rumors live album, titled Live You to Death 2 - American Punishment
, is no exception. Since their reactivation in 2006, the Bay Area heavy/power metal veterans have been steadily growing in terms of the quality of new music and the extent of live touring. Their most recent album, Electric Punishment
was issued last year to great acclaim and led the outfit to a US tour soon after, in order to get the word out to as many people as possible.
Before tour takeoff, three fifths of the line up which recorded Electric Punishment
parted ways with the band. On par with the trend describing the band as a collective of talented musicians around founding members Geoff Thorpe and Larry Howe, the empty line up slots were filled by guitarist Bob Capka, Slovenian bassist Tilen Hudrap, and last but not least, Dutch vocalist Nick Holleman, whom Thorpe brought to the fold after checking his work on YouTube. All musicians involved with the post 2006 Vicious Rumors affairs are very/equally talented, give or take, but the addition of Holleman can singlehandedly take the band to the next level, namely the era in which Vicious Rumors released the album triplet Digital Dictator
/Welcome To The Ball
and rightfully entered the US heavy/power metal pantheon.
Judging from Holleman’s passionate invocations towards the madding audience, the live album consists of the entire Auckland CA show. Save for two songs from Electric Punishment
and the eponymous anthem from Soldiers Of The Night
, the set revolves around the aforementioned Vicious Rumors album triplet. Moreover, the band kicks off the show by covering the first half of Digital Dictator
, and US heavy/power metal behemoths like “Towns on Fire” and “Lady Took A Chance”. Statistically, and if the band in question is not Judas Priest, Iron Maiden or Saxon, it is a bit of a risk for the hidden aces to hit the table so quickly, but Vicious Rumors have the kind of momentum that permits the legacy material to be awesomely reproduced on the spot. Only complaint regarding the set list is that it could be extended with more numbers from Welcome To The Ball
, (personal favorites: “Six Stepsisters” and “Children”), but then again, the band is expected to be around for more live (and full-length) albums, so everything’s good.
The instrumental performance of each band member is stellar and almost identical to the studio versions of the songs. In that respect, guitarist Geoff Thorpe and drummer Larry Howe don’t have anything to anyone, whereas Bob Capka, who also participated in the Live You To Death
live album, sounds in perfect shape in his rhythm and lead guitar duties, the latter being masterfully interplayed with Thorpe’s respective work (check “Worlds and Machines”). The bass of newly recruited Tilen Hudrap is anything but absent, as his energetic/technical playing is readily audible through the entire show. However, the real clue of the show and this live album is Nick Holleman’s vocals. The author of this review can only imagine how Thorpe felt when he discovered his voice on YT, because Holleman sounds almost like the late Carl Albert (R.I.P.). His high-pitched voice and vibrato are absolutely spectacular, and he has treated the VR legacy material with sheer confidence and the utmost respect.
If Live You to Death 2
shows anything, is that more great things should be expected from Vicious Rumors in the near future. This live album is not just for the die-hard fans of the band, as it also serves as an excellent “best-of” entry point to Vicious Rumors, especially for fans with an affinity towards traditional heavy metal.