and you've hardly the time to think clear.
With time running out and the end drawing near,
I will fight for what's right while I am here"
One Word Review: Classic
The much overlooked Vicious Rumors first reared their head back in 1985 with their fantastic debut Soldiers of the Night. They continued to put out classic albums through the 80'ies and beginning of the 90'ies. Welcome to the Ball is my favorite and their crowning achievement in my book. A year after the release of Word of Mouth in 1994 Vicious Rumors suffered a tragic loss when their singer Carl Albert passed away, but the band kept on releasing albums and are still going strong. I saw the band live on their tour with Savatage back in 2002 and that was a great experience which gave me hope for the future and made me rediscover the band, leading to their 2006 release Warball, which was a solid release.
Ok, enough history. This is about Welcome to the ball, the last album on the Atlantic label, released back in 1991. This is a solid ball of Metal that hits you hard and fast with the crunching power chords of Abandoned and leaves you gasping for breath when Ends of the world is over 45 minutes later. The songs on Welcome to the ball are varied, straight to the point and never boring. Complementing the fast songs are two slower, but equally powerful ballads. If you have never heard of Vicious Rumors before and like Power Metal and Painkiller-era Judas Priest then I am sure you will be blown away by their music.
Carl Albert was an amazing singer. His soaring voice matches the powerful music and is able to command it with a great sense of melody. Take an extremely tight song like You only live twice, where his vocals are spot on, or the line "Lay down the tracks upon the shore" from Dust to Dust, which is one of many times where his voice captures a fantastic melody. Another classic moment is the entry to the second verse of Raise Your Hands. The way Carl rips into the line "Racing like demons, we move into fight" and rolls on the R is just brilliant. Listen to it LOUD to get the full effect.
Carl's voice has a great tension and there is always a feeling that he can explode at any time. If you spliced the power of Rob Halford with the emotion of Jon Oliva and added some secret ingredient, then Carl Albert is close to what you would get. He was a powerful and one of a kind singer.
On drums Larry Howe keep things tight with an amazing precision and he brings a lot of great detail to the album. Likewise on the bass, Dave Starr plays an important role in several songs. Guitar-wise the work of Geoff Thorpe and Mark McGee is splendid. A great abundance of cool riffs and fast solos are sprayed all over the album. But the best thing about Vicious Rumors is the perfect way the instruments work together to create something very heavy and powerful.
The album is varied and doesn't have a weak song, just pure Metal. Each song has something to offer and songs like Raise your hands with its drive and rythm that just sweeps you away, Mastermind with its psycho chorus and overall cool feel and the aggressive Savior from anger are songs that provide a solid base for the album. That also goes for Dust to dust, which has some very cool riffs.
My absolute highlights are You only live twice, Six step sisters and the two ballads.
You only live twice is not a Bond movie cover song. The song is ruled by an incredible heavy and powerful riff and fast power drumming. It is one of those songs that will cut through your speakers and eat you alive if you play it loud enough. Carl is in top form and in the spirit of the main riff sings in a very tight and controlled voice. The same can be said of the guitar solo. A fast and melodic song driven by pure energy.
Children is the definition of a Power Ballad. Even my sister sang along to this song once upon a time. I love the start of the song with its monstrous and heavy dual guitar riff. Pretty simple and very effective. Carl's voice delivers the message with just the right amount of feeling, never sounding contrived. Children is one of those songs that has a timeless message.
Six stepsisters is another favorite which takes the mix of power, speed and moaning to new heights. Twisted would be one way to describe the song and lyrics. Right from the insane start the intensity level is raised to boiling point and through the song it is kept intact due to the frantic background riffing, kick ass drumming and Carl's voice, which is filled with held back emotion. If the extremely cool chorus doesn't get you then I'm sure the ear raising middle part will. What a cool song.
When love comes down is a wonderful ballad. The bass lays a very soothing background to Carl's voice and the guitar is used to enhance the song just right. A perfect hearfelt guitar solo leads to the final part of the song which doesn't just fade out but ends on an emotional note.
The production is just like it should be, full, packed with power and with space enough to hold every instrument clearly audible.
The lyrics takes on a lot of differerent subjects ranging from world pollution through government control to finding your inner strength, friendship, love and never giving up. One thing that has certainly defined this band.
Listening to Welcome To The Ball the other day with the volume turned up high enough to make the album a force to be reckoned with, I was filled with an inspired feeling of contentment. That is the sign of an album which is not just inspired and works 100% but also has both heart and soul. Welcome To The Ball is one of the definitive Heavy Metal releases and a timeless classic.
Written By Steen
Online: Sunday, January 27, 2013