Since it’s formation in 1992, New Mexico’s Ultimatum has been steadfast in it’s pursuit of the Metal Dream. This is one of those bands that lives, eats and breathes Heavy Metal on stage and off. For it’s fifth full length studio release, the band has chosen to pay homage to some of it’s heroes and ours…yes, boys and girls, I give you a covers album – collective groan from the audience -. I know, I know. These types of albums have been called everything from lazy to a quick cash in…sometimes both. But Ultimatum #1 – barely make any money anyway and #2 – are anything but a lazy band so here we go.
Ultimatum is known primarily as a Thrash Metal band. Yet, over time the band has allowed it’s classic Heavy Metal roots to come through in it’s music much like Deceased has done. Thus, we find a varying combination (for Metal) of covers from bands like Overkill, Judas Priest, Vengeance Rising, Quiet Riot, Metal Chrch, etc. with no single style taking the lead. The band does manage to put its own stamp on the songs without rendering them unrecognizable. A few that fit like a glove would be “Ton Of Bricks” (Metal Church), “Can’t Get Out” (Vengeance Rising) and “Powersurge” (Overkill) as they are close to Ultimatum’s on brand of Thrash tinged Heavy Metal and also since vocalist Scott Waters is kind of like a blend of all three of these singers, David Wayne, Roger Martinez and Blitz Ellsworth, respectively.The higher range, gritty, sometimes slurred delivery also shows signs of influence from the likes of Cronos and King Fowley. A few that surprised me were “Bang Your Head (Metal Health)” (Quiet Riot), “Denim And Leather” (Saxon) and “Sin After Sin” (Twisted Sister). I say surprised because once you hear the rough and ragged vocals come in over very familiar riffage, it jolts the attention (if you’ve heard Deceased’s ‘Zombie Hymns’ release, you know what I’m talking about). Like I said, the band put it’s stamp on these songs. The music is all kept pretty close to all the original arrangements, except maybe for a little added double kick or altered drum pattern or solo embellishment here and there, but I think the idea was to play the songs as if Ultimatum wrote them. A few others that come off quite well would include “Wrathchild” (Iron Maiden), “Iron Fist” (Motorhead) and “Creeping Death” (Metallica). One I think did not come together well was “Steeler” (Judas Priest). I can’t put my finger on it, but it’s just not sitting well with me. Perhaps the music/vocal combo is just too glaring on this one.
The liners come with detailed explanations as to why these particular songs were chosen and that’s always fun to read. As with most covers albums, they are for diehard fans of the band recording them as the point is to look back, not look forward for new fans. But, if you’re curious as to what Ultimatum actually sounds like, despite them having not written a single note on this album, Lex Metalis does manage to give you a good idea. If you played the band’s 2007 album Into The Pit next to this one, you’ll see what I mean…despite the well-known songs, it sounds like Ultimatum. Check it out.