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Consistent and powerful heavy metal - 89%

CrystalMountain, March 21st, 2009

While not quite as good as the master piece that was Digital Dictator, Welcome to the Ball is still a high quality slab of pure heavy metal. I haven't heard the S/T album yet, so I can't speak for that. But there aren't many changes here from DD, except a couple minor ones. The production has improved quite a bit, and sounds crystal clear, it's damn near immaculate. The songs are generally faster than on DD, all though they do slow way down with a couple of (awesome)ballads. But for the most part, the album is straight up speed metal, even surprisingly thrashy at times. The drumming is also a step up, I found it to be pretty basic before, but there's lots of nice and fast beats on here. Carl Albert is still in fine form, he even adds a new layer to his voice, a sort of David Wayne/Blitz snarl. He still hits all the notes(though not as many screams,) and he hasn't lost the ability to make a chorus really come to life.

"Abandoned" blasts out of the gate with a frenzy, this song is just pure heavy metal at it's finest. Fast guitars, aggressive screaming vocals, catchy chorus. A suitable opener and one of the best on the album. "You Only Live Twice" has a very thrashy main riff, and that Iron Maiden style chorus that sticks to you like glue. "Children" is the albums first ballad, and it is really fucking great. It's not your typical soft ballad, there's no acoustic guitar here. It churns along at a slow speed, with Carl Albert sounding absolutely amazing. "Dust to Dust" starts off soft but rips into a heavy driving rhythm, some good drum work and great lead playing, great chorus. Probably my favorite song on the album. "Six Stepsisters" is really fucking fast and heavy, it sounds like an Overkill song. Awesome pre-chours and chorus vocals, makes you wonder how the guy can sing in all the different ways he does and still sound flawless. "When Love Comes Down" is the true ballad of the album, it's much more conventional than "Children." Carl Albert shows more versatility, singing in a soft and emotional tone, he sounds strikingly similar to Sebastian Bach(dammit how does this guy do all these different vocal styles) at times. Powerful, emotional, and ridiculously catchy.

The album does have it's faults though, all though they are minor. First and foremost, the main problem I have is that there are no really killer tracks. There aren't any songs like "The Crest" or "Minute to Kill" that stick to you immediately and you wanna go back and listen to them over and over. Maybe the 2 ballads would fit that category, but I'm not sure about that. Secondly, the lyrics are still struggling. That has never been the bands strong point, all though they are a little better than on DD. That's about all the complaints I have though really. This is a very consistent album, no filler at all, just maybe a lack of truly great songs. If you liked Digital Dictator you will surely like this one.