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After their hugely disappointing self-titled release, Vicious Rumors return to form better than ever with this album. I can never decide which album is my all time favorite from them, but I usually lean towards this release. It may not be as dark as Soldiers of the Night, or as straight forward and fast as Digital Dictator, but the energy and emotion jam packed into this disc is absolutely overwhelming. This album is extremely sad at times, aggressive and catchy, maybe even angry at times, and just downright moving. This is hands down their most emotional performance. The atmosphere is as strong as ever and all over the place here.
The lineup is thankfully still the same as the previous two albums. Carl Albert's (RIP) vocals here are hands down his best, and its not like he's already been explosive enough. This gives vocalists like Bruce Dickinson and whatnot a run for their money, easily. Albert's vocals are empowering throughout this whole album, and definitely sets the mood for each and every song perfectly. Whether its an upbeat one or a depressive one. He makes it happen. As top notch as Albert's performance is here, he isn't the only one that makes this album nearly perfect. Both guitarists Geoff Thorpe and Mark McGhee put out some of their best solo's here, mesmerizing and out of this world. The guitars are also a powerful "intro force" with many of the songs as well, "Children" and "Dust to Dust" come to mind here. There's also the use of acoustics from time to time that blend perfectly with the themes and the music. Both bass guitars by Dave Starr and the drums by Larry Howe are top notch as well here. This would be an empty vessel without the bass, and wouldn't be overpowering without the perfectly balanced drums.
I've heard a lot of upbeat power metal out there, but this thing actually has some incredible riffs and solo's, extremely memorable lyrics and themes, and can be aggressive and moody when needed. The energetic performance here is completely off the wall and hardly rivaled. There is simply no low point to this album at all. There's too many standout tracks to begin mentioning. From the beginning and to the end, you'll be on an emotional ride for your life.
A very quick track by track analysis. "Abandoned" starts the album off perfectly with the typical and perfected VR sound. "You Only Live Twice" starts off with one of those great guitar driven intro's, speeds things up and has an extremely catchy chorus, topped off with a completely out of this world solo that'll put you in a trance. "Savior From Anger" is a simpler catchy and upbeat song. "Children" is merely flawless, one of their most emotional songs ever. A mid-paced yet ever so moving song that just seems to keep building up and throws out nothing but emotions at you, with a powerful solo segment and the middle part sounding a bit like Live and Let Die! "Dust to Dust" starts off with a guitar again, and has its powerful moving moments as well. "Raise Your Hands" is one of the more darker and atmospheric songs, sounds a bit like something you could have heard on Soldiers of the Night. Albert completely controls this one. "Strange Behavior" is an odd mid-paced song, not as much of a standout track as the others but still good. "Six Stepsisters" is another one of the faster tracks here and the vocals sound like a monster, Albert completely steals the show again. "Mastermind" is another somewhat more darker and mid-paced venture, with yet another mesmerizing solo. "When Love Comes Down" is a packed with nothing but sadness, slow at times, but never really has that cheese factor glam had. "Ends of the Earth" pretty much does what my title for this review states, makes the sun explode and causes Earth to explode in this masterful work here.
Really, thats just like blowing out the candles and not even getting to the cake yet. This is something a lot of power metal bands should take note of and use as a perfect example to the style. You can't go wrong with this album at all. If you have yet to hear anything by this incredible band, Welcome to the Ball would be the perfect album to start with, and its luckily one of their easier to find releases. The level of energy, emotion, and atmosphere here is hardly reached by others. Hands down a pure classic.