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Building a bridge to nowhere - 62%

autothrall, January 7th, 2011

The second time out, Vectom were down to just one pointy hooded figure on the album cover; its eyes glowing and its hands offering you a skull libation of blood, wine, or whatever their shared fantasy would allow (though it seems his fellow cultists might be off in the distance to the right, I am not sure). However, don't let this ritual reduction fool you into believing that the finished product is inferior to their debut Speed Revolution, because that is not in fact the case. This album, Rules of Mystery, is cleaner and more refined, with more of a leaning towards melodic, memorable chorus parts and effective riffs instead of just endlessly jabbering on about Satan over mediocrity that only made Destruction and Iron Angel look better by comparison.

No, Rules of Mystery is far from perfect, and in fact I wouldn't even qualify it as very 'good', but I would be lying to admit that it didn't evoke more headbanging moments than its predecessor. This is no Hellish Crossfire, and no Reign of Fear, but it definitely channels a similar aesthetic that fans of either might appreciate, at least in the better songs. "Prisoner's Back" is one such gem, a straight forward speedster with rumbling drums, airy production, wailing, accented vocals and cutting solos. Had the rest of the album retained this general level of fortitude and quality, it would likely remain a cult classic. But from this point on, the standouts are few and far between. "Metallic War" has a nice bounce to its trotting riffs, but "Outlaw" feels like a sloppy attempt at writing an early power metal hymn ala Running Wild. "Caught by Insanity" is an attention grabber with its atmospheric, backing chant vocals, and the dingy, opening guitar melodies, but its not solid through and through, and the finale "Evil Run" seems like it will build into something impressive, but doesn't really pan out.

Still, despite its consistencies, I'd take this over Speed Revolution any day. It's not as lethal or aggressive sounding, but the songs feel more distinct and better up to the task of contending with the band's mighty peers, who were at this time releasing albums like Zombie Attack, Pleasure to Kill and Reign of Fear and securing their positions in metal infamy. Vectom were obviously not at the same level, but I get the feeling that had their career continued beyond Rules of Mystery, they might have had something of worth to offer. Alas, the brief legacy ended here, before their prime, and at best this is the sort of album one might turn to if they're craving that authentic German speed of the mid-80s, before the dawning of tech-thrash monsters began to shift the entire landscape to something more divine, and mindless of its lack of truly memorable tunes.

-autothrall
http://www.fromthedustreturned.com