Ultra-Violence // Privilege to Overcome
Rating: 3.0/5.0 — Thrash with a multiple personality disorder
Label: Punishment 18 Records
Websites: myspace.com/ultraviolencemetal | facebook.com/ultraviolencemetal
Release Dates: Out now!
Re-thrashers just keep coming through the floorboards and as with roaches, for every one you see, hundreds more lurk just out of sight. Ultra-Violence is a new bug and they hail from Italy of all places. Their Privilege to Overcome debut doesn’t completely reinvent the thrash wheel, but it does offer a dizzyingly schizoid blend of modern thrash, second wave Bay Area style thrash like Defiance and Faith or Fear, Germanic thrash, crossover hardcore like D.R.I. and modern stuff like Machine Head. Though at first they seem to be another throwback band, they include such a hodge-podge of diverse elements that they end up quite unpredictable and a lot more interesting. The fact they can really play doesn’t hurt either and they bring a slick, fairly technical approach to their performing while keeping the energy level high. While I’ll admit I was rather Blaise about hearing this (the codpiece-heavy album art didn’t help matters), their skill, enthusiasm and myriad outside influences slowly brought me around after a spin or three. In fact, I prefer this to the new Havok opus and nobody is more surprised by that than me, my droogs.
The band gives you their basic package on opener “Spell of the Moon” which showcases a mostly Bay Area assault with little moments of Machine Head-like super heavy riffing spaced throughout. It comes closest to Exodus, but you can hear a more punky side as well. The energy is high, the vocals are insane and they pack in some sweet solos. Overall a satisfying slice o’ thrash and a great intro to the band. Tracks like “Order of the Black” throw in textbook Slayer style whammy molestations and even add a few blackened trem-pickings as they zip along. “Turn Into Dust” rambles all over the damn place and calls to mind Germanic thrash like Destruction and Sodom and Loris Castiglia channels Tom Angelripper’s vocals at times.
Things go into epic mode for the almost nine minute “The Voodoo Cross” and the crew does their best to find the balance between aggression, tempo shifts and technicality. While they certainly include a slew of interesting ideas and generally manage to keep things moving, epic mode is rarely a good idea for thrash as the style lends itself to fatigue quicker than most and this will be too much for many listeners. Other chestnuts of worth include the much more light-hearted and catchy cover of Ira‘s “Metal Milizia,” the old school Exodus worship of “The Beast Behind Your Back” and the very black metal-esque “Ride Across the Storm.”
Downers are few, but “10,000 Ways to Spread My Hate” feels tired despite the death metal influence and the short, punky “You’re Dead” adds little beyond a nod to crossover acts like D.R.I., Crumbsuckers and Cryptic Slaughter. The bigger issue on Privilege to Overcome is the length of the songs. Rare is the band that can write long and drawn out thrash capable of holding one’s interest and several solid tracks here beat the dead horse to the point of tedium (“Turn Into Dust” and “The Voodoo Cross” being the worst offenders). If they cut the length of most of these songs down by a minute of two, things would sizzle and move on, leaving the listener impressed instead of glazed over. Making matters worse, the album runs almost sixty minutes, which is much too much thrash for one sitting. I begin to lose focus by the ninth track and I really can’t get through this in one sitting despite the overall quality. It shouldn’t be lost on young bands that Reign in Blood is widely considered to be the zenith of the genre and it ran a mere twenty-nine minutes. Less is always more with thrash.
As expected, the guitars do the yeoman’s work and Andrea Vacchiotti and Castiglia are quite skilled. They managed to pen a collection of above average thrash riffs that borrow from various times and places in thrash history and they freely incorporate ideas from black metal and to a lesser extent, death metal. Whether aping Exodus, Destruction of some other act, their playing is crisp and urgent and the solos by Vacchiotti run from wild to emotional and some are quite beautiful (check out “When Future and Past Collide”). Castiglia’s vocals run from a typical thrash bark, to borderline death roars with occasional transitions into blackened croaks and shrieks. He isn’t great at any given style, but he’s more than adequate at each and his efforts help shake things up and keep it all interesting. Overall, the band is tight and talented and manage to convey the youthful passion I look for in thrash.
While this shit is hardly Ludwig van, it will surely please thrash fans and should get their name out there as a promising upstart. They clearly have talent and potential, though they’re mighty late to the retro-thrash party. I sure hope there’s still beer and pizza left for them. Viddy well.