SummaryRefining their craft
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Although it would take Vicious Rumors three years to release a second album, Digital Dictator would be the definite album of this band and it’s easy to see why. There’s a fair stylistic resemblance to that of Soldiers of the Night, yet Vicious Rumors had definitely stepped up their game. The band had refined their composition-craft and Carl Albert being part of the crew helped; this tenor had a serious edge to his voice and with a higher range that injects an enormous amount of life into these songs, his charisma was clearly felt, yet over-singing wasn’t part of his repertoire either. Production-wise, Digital Dictator is a tad cleaner and more balanced in terms of mixing, so you don’t end up with the clash of instruments, unlike the band’s debut record; definitely another plus point as far as I’m concerned.
Carl Albert is clearly the star of the show here, but rarely wastes his talent on songs that don’t match his excellence. There may be nothing sophisticated or complex about Digital Dictator, but who said that simplicity has to be a negative factor? Opening up with the title track was a great choice, as it represents the band’s refined craft rather well. The melodic, yet tasteful riffs appear around Albert’s explosive vocal tricks and although plenty of US power metal bands sounded heavier and more intense at this point, Vicious Rumors defined their own standards by this time. “World and Machines” takes things even further than the debut did, where a mood-setting acoustic fragment quickly leads into a voyage that you could only expect from a power metal track. A prominent chorus becomes the main attraction here, but with such intense verses in between, you can be assured that any lover of the riff won’t end up disappointed. “Minute to Kill” is the track Judas Priest wish they had come up with in 1988, as it conjures a hurricane of addictive speed metal licks that sound intense, yet extremely memorable at the same time. “R.L.H.” gets introduced by an off showing Carl Albert, but rightfully so, it quickly turns into another exciting speed metal verse riff that leads to a gang-shouted chorus and “Out of the Shadows” is the last track to feature a serious tour-de-force of melodic riffs as well as a another addictive chorus in between.
Not unsurprisingly, the less-heavier cuts aren’t too appealing, as don’t conjure as much metallic fury as the other tracks. “Towns on Fire” doesn’t sound as hot as I wish it would to, even if kicks off with a promising Accept-esque stomping riff and “Lady Took a Chance” overstays its welcome; it’s a six minute-long rocker that features Carl Albert’s intense vocals and the tasteful shredded solos… but leaves to be desired in the riff department. However, the highlights make Digital Dictator definitely worthy and as far as I know, Vicious Rumors never had a better moment.
Release date: February 9th, 1988
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