Album of the Week 33-2012: Vicious Rumors – Welcome To The Ball

Although it is instantly audible from what era of Metal Vicious Rumors stems, it’s quite hard to categorize them. Their music probably comes closest to the glorious 1980’s US Power Metal, with all the layers of spectacular guitar work, but especially on this brilliant fourth album of theirs, ‘Welcome To The Ball’, there’s quite some riffs bordering on the more melodic vein of Thrash, think Powermad, Holy Terror and the likes. Still, the band isn’t heavy enough to be a Thrash band. Then there’s the late Carl Albert, whose powerhouse voice was equal parts Hardrock, USPM and Thrash, not unlike Metal Church’s Mike Howe at the time. That accounts for a combination of the best three genres the eighties had to offer, you won’t hear me complain!

Central to any Vicious Rumors record is the downright stellar guitar work by band brain Geoff Thorpe and his fellow axeman, Mark McGee in this case. The NWOBHM-on-speed riffs are all over the place, the soaring twin leads are irresistable and the guitar solos by both men – McGee’s outnumbering Thorpe’s by a hair – are the climaxes to the awesome compositions on the albums. However, the classic Vicious Rumors records – ‘Digital Dictator’, the self titled and this one – are lifted to a higher level by Albert’s charismatic and powerful vocals. I’m not saying Vicious Rumors became worse after his fatal car accident in 1995, but Albert has yet to be surpassed.

‘Welcome To The Ball’ starts out relatively heavily with ‘Abandoned’, not a typical Metal opener in the sense that it’s not a very fast track. However, it does make sense as an opening statement to this record, as some of the faster tracks, such as the awesome ‘You Only Live Twice’ and the almost-Thrashfest of ‘Six Stepsisters’ pass by at exactly the right moment on this record. Other highlights include ‘Savior From Anger’, which has a chorus with gang shouts and great vocal harmonies, therefore containing all the elements of classic Vicious Rumors backing vocals, the powerful closing track ‘Ends Of The Earth’, which spots the best bass lines of the album, ‘Dust To Dust’ and the best ballad Vicious Rumors has ever written: ‘When Love Comes Down’, the definition of a power ballad.

Production-wise, this is exactly what you’d expect from a late eighties, early nineties USPM record. There’s a bright gloss and reverb to the total sound and Larry Howe’s drums in particular, I just have a feeling that the guitars are a bit more ballsy. And of course, the guitar work is basically what Vicious Rumors is renowned for. Interesting sidenote is that the bass is relatively present for a classic Metal album, which makes sense, figuring David Starr’s qualities as a bassist.

If you are a fan of classic, US Power Metal, you need to own this album. And if you’re running off to get it, be sure to pick up ‘Digital Dictator’ and the self-titled as well. This is classy, powerful Heavy Metal in the best Maiden/Priest tradition. Recommended to anyone who likes classic Heavy Metal, but open minded Thrashers may want to give this a shot as well.

Recommended tracks: ‘Savior From Anger’, ‘When Love Comes Down’, ‘You Only Live Twice’, ‘Abandoned’

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