Back in 1979 these US based Metal bruisers began delivering their brand of Metal thanks to main man Geoff Thorpe and the enthusiastic and proud guitarist exclaimed, "Vicious Rumors is known for their wicked live performance and 'Live You To Death 2 – American Punishment' captures the fire and energy of Vicious Rumors live and in your face! This Live CD is a high speed hammer that's razor sharp!" Hmm... Or is he too close to the forest to see the trees?
In 2012 the band unleashed their 'Live You To Death' album which interestingly consisted of 'Minute To Kill', 'Lady Took A Chance', 'Don't Wait For Me', 'Hellraiser' and 'Soldiers Of The Night' so why include them again this time?
These recordings were made during their extensive touring in support of last year's 'Electric Punishment' album, but as you'll notice we only get two tracks from that album given the live treatment. Is this a reflection of their confidence in the newer material?
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The new lead vocalist Nick Holleman is great throughout with his strong similarity to Geoff Tate of Queensrÿche fame and the band as a whole are solid. On 'Lady Took A Chance' they stretch their muscles and it's really good. Opening their set here with 'Digital Dictator', the title track from their second studio album works well enough.
Is it really a good idea though to lean on that specific 1987 album throughout the first five tracks? They were touring and promoting a new album for goodness sakes. I must be missing something here? Not meaning to be harsh as I think these guys are great, but they have eleven studio albums in their catalogue and as they already shared some of these tracks on the preceding live album under two years ago, could they not have spread their wings a little more?
The two new songs which arrive in the form of 'I Am The Gun' and the title track, 'Electric Punishment' are both epic and strong.
Sharing some progressive elements and really blossoming here on this live recording, they hold court in the middle of the set-list. I like the moment where you hear the audience and a spoken word section by Holleman introducing a track from their 1991 album 'Welcome To The Ball' album, as the band catch their breath. It provides the listener with a chance to catch their breath too, plus embrace the fact this is a live album and soak up the ambience.
On reflection, it is a good live album if you're unfamiliar with the band. They come across really well with prominent quality shining in all they give. It has also been an opportunity for Vicious Rumors to show off their current lead vocalist in the live environment, but I'm not entirely convinced that these are sufficiently good enough reasons to have invested time and effort in releasing this.
Maybe their time could be put to better use working on more new material and taking the momentum they had with 'Electric Punishment'?
This will appeal to those who buy everything Vicious Rumors release and to those who attended the U.S. dates where these moments were captured. They can treasure the live recording to remind them of their experience of the shows. I could see newcomers who are curious getting a lot out of this album as it really showcases a band that is tight and takes snapshots from their back catalogue providing good tasters for those who are unaware.
But overall, I still find myself having some constructive criticism on the tracks they selected and for the principle of this live release.
Minute To Kill
Towns On Fire
Lady Took A Chance
Worlds And Machines
I Am The Gun
You Only Live Twice
Don't Wait For Me
Soldiers Of The Night