|Review: Vicious Rumors - Welcome to the Ball|
|Welcome to the Ball|
Label: Atlantic Records
Year released: 1991
Genre: Heavy Metal
Review online: January 13, 2010
Reviewed by: Adam Kohrman
for:Welcome to the Ball
Rated 4.5/5 (90%) (30 Votes)
Vicious Rumors are one of the great unsung metal bands from the United States. In the late eighties and early nineties, they released a trio a classic Heavy Metal albums. After debuting with Soldiers of the Night and going on to the equally strong Digital Dictator, the band slid into tepid and uninspired hard rock with their self-titled release in 1990. Learning from their mistakes, they returned in a blaze of riff-driven, dual guitar fury with Welcome to the Ball in 1991, an album that rivals any of their other classic releases.
Opening up with "Abandoned," the album sets its driving and forceful pace. Carl Albert's vocals soar, evoking feelings of aggression, frustration, and even worry. He may not have the range of some of metal's most skilled vocalists, but he is able to convey emotion on a deeper level than many of them. Whether singing of love, emotional turmoil, or even a topic as bromidic and "unmetal" as fairy tales ("Six Stepsisters"), he is able to implant intense emotion into his voice. Also shining on the album is the work of dueling axemen Geoff Thorpe and Mark McGhee. Neither one takes the stage to outshine the other, which sadly is the case with so many metal bands. They competently accentuate and aid each other during solos and riffs. The two work together as a team, making their music even better and evocative, rather than made for individual showmanship. The unsung and shadowed hero of this album is the exceptional drumming of Larry Howe. He pummels his skins in quick yet reserved fashion. Fitting more into his fills than so many other drummers do, he transitions VR's songs effectively and smoothly. But when he needs to, he busts out of his reservations and thunderously pounds on his drums, making them the album's focus. Vicious Rumors do not yield to any member of the band, instead becoming balanced team.
There are two ballads on the album, and they are prime examples of the good and bad in balladry. First off is "Children," the albums only stinker. It's an uninspired, boring track that caters to a fan base feeling that Heavy Metal of the period needed ballads. Vicious Rumors slow down the pace, and it becomes clear that Carl Albert's voice is good, but not strong enough to sustain a song without fast guitars backing him up. At the end, this song is just unintelligent; it's a simple, hackneyed rehashment of better songs. On the other hand there's "When Love Comes Down." Now this is how to make an original power ballad. The solos and riffs back up Albert's longing and lustful wailing, instead of forcing him to carry the ball himself. This song finds it's itself coming straight from the heart, becoming a moving and eloquent ballad.
This is an absolute classic of American Heavy Metal, a must for any serious fan of the style. Apart from the album's unquestionable nadir "Children," this album in a nonstop tour-de-force of unabashedly traditional, driving Heavy Metal. And guess what...it was just reissued! So go buy the damn thing now!
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