ULTIMATUM - SYMPHONIC EXTREMITIES (2007, Retroactive) bonus tracks
1997 Ultimatum Ministries
For fans of:Motorhead, Medageth, Metallica, Exodus, Overkill
Ultimatum began in early 1992 by founder Robert Gutierrez and guitarist Steve Trujillo. Ultimatum played their first two shows with Robert singing lead vocals in October of 1992. Scott & Robert had been friends for a while, so he was asked to audition for the band. Scott joined in January 1993. At the same time, Ultimatum were looking for a permanent drummer. Mike Lynch joined the band in March of 1994. UltimatumŠ—Ès first public performance with Scott, Steve and Robert was at Sonshine 94Š—È opening for Godfear and Extraction. Extraction vocalist/drummer Rick Campbell, filled in on the drums as Mike was not yet familiar with all the material. In 1993 they released their first demo titled Fatal Delay that was sold worldwide and began to give them a dedicated following. The band was never real happy with the demo, feeling they could do much better. So, in the Winter of 1994 they went into a new studio and began recording a new demo titled Symphonic Extremities by Ultimatum. This five song demo was never released. Only about 50 copies were sent out to magazines, labels, and a few friends. Later that year, they decided it best not to release another cheap demo, so they went back into the same studio the first five tracks were recorded at and recorded five more. This is also where they met bassist Tom Michaels. October of 1995, a full length tape titled Symphonic Extremities by Ultimatum was released independently by the band and captured raving reviews in metal publications across the globe. In January of 1997 Ultimatum licensed Symphonic Extremities to Juke Box Media (USA), a small indie company, to be released on a national level with the added bonus cut, "World of Sin." "World of Sin" was released as a single, received airplay worldwide and was in the top 10 on the Pure Rock ReportŠ—Ès LOUD Chart for several weeks. Ultimatum has also appeared on the Rowe Productions/ Diamante release Massive Frequency Overload-the U.S. Hard Compilation. "World of Sin" would be the last song recorded with drummer Mike Lynch. Current drummer Sean Griego joined the band in May 1997. JBM sold out of Symphonic Extremities within a matter of weeks. After the company was sold, "Symphonic" went into itŠ—Ès second printing. Since "World of Sin" was originally intended to be recorded for their second full length release, a new, slightly altered version appears on the bandŠ—Ès first Rowe Productions release, Puppet of Destruction. "Never" the only single to be released by Rowe, reached #7 on the Pure Rock charts. The album became one of Rowe;s better selling discs. Overall, "Puppet" did well for the band, opening up a wealth of new doors. The album grabbed the attention of a few international labels that began to carry the cd in their mail order catalogues. One label, Dwell Records, offered Ultimatum the opportunity to record songs for two of their compilation cds. "2000-A Second Coming" featured a new remixed version of their single "Never." The other project was recording the song "Sins of Omission" for Dwell's Testament tribute disc. 2000 saw Ultimatum record their third full length disc titled "The Mechanics of Perilous Times" Originally scheduled to be on Rowe Productions, Ultimatum opted to release the disc themselves in the U.S. while Gutter Records, a division of Massacre Records, released the disc in Europe in March 2001. During this time Ultimatum played various shows across the country to promote the disc, including the 2001 Stryper Expo. Also during this year, long time bassist Tom Micheals left the band and was replaced by California native Rob Whitlock. Ultimatum performed their first show with Rob at the Metal Marti Gras festival in California in August of 2002 and as of the Spring 2003 are writing songs for their fourth CD.
Although all of Ultimatum's four studio disks are worthwhile I feel 1995's SYMPHONIC EXTREMITIES and 1998's PUPPET OF DESTRUCTION have the best assortment of songs. (2002's THE MECHANICS of PERILOUS TIMES is their heaviest offering with a great primal drum sound, while 2007's INTO THE PIT features stellar songs like "Blood Covenant" and "Heart of Metal").
Ultimatum play a style that's rooted in traditional metal but with a thrashy, modern edge. It's a timeless style pure and simple. Although it's the songs themselves that standout on SYMPHONIC EXTREMITIES, the musicianship and vocals are certainly worth noting. The rhythm guitars are reminiscent of early Metallica and Exodus whereas the lead guitars are unschooled with a melodic haunting vibe (think Mercyful Fate). The drums & bass are professional and solid.
As for the vocals, people will likely either love or hate Scott Waters. On this recording he sounds like a mixture of Steve Souza, Dave Mustaine and Udo yet with his own unique flair. He sorta sounds like a snake if it became human and fronted a metal band (huh?). One great thing about Scott's vocals is that he is able to acclimate to the needs of the song and make it "work," if you know what I mean. Hence, although he's technically not a great singer like Dio, he utilizes his vocal talents in such a way that keeps the songs from being one-dimensional and boring. Dio, by contrast, has the unfortunate tendency to sound the same song to song.
SONG HIGHLIGHTS: SYMPHONIC EXTREMITIES is without a doubt Ultimatum's most experimental, creative disk. Although one riff in "Symphonic Extremities" (the song) is reminiscent of Metallica's "Ride the Lightning," on a whole it stands on its own. "The Killing Fields" is an incredible piece addressing abortion; talk about poignant! "E.N.D." is one of the most catchy, innovative metal pieces you'll likely ever hear; it overtly touches on suicidal feelings and salvation. "Black Light" addresses the deception of cults and is highlighted by an original, melodic and moving chorus. "Darkest Void" is another strong track. "Ode to Noise" is an avant-garde instrumental. "The Grip" is an emotionally stirring number about struggling with the evil within oneself (all of us can relate, huh?); it's highlighted by a potent chorus. "Magaton" is another stand out track with bass-driven stanzas and Udo-like vocals. "World of Sin" was originally a bonus track and a more recent version is featured on PUPPET OF DESTRUCTION. Regardless, "World of Sin" is a superb metal masterpiece. The two tracks I failed to mention -- "Fatal Delay" and "Blink" -- are okay but nothing noteworthy (a better-produced version of "Blink" is featured on INTO THE PIT).
The cd also features 3 bonus tracks: "Wickedness & Perdition" is an interesting 1993 demo featuring a more conventional vocal style. There's also a 1993 demo version of "Fatal Delay" and a great live rendition of "Greed Regime" from THE MECHANICS OF PERILOUS TIMES (the cd wrongly lists "Blink"). "Greed Regime" kicks total axx!
As you've probably noticed, the lyrical themes are different from the metal norm. You don't have to worry about well-worn material here like dungeons, dragons, horror-gore and silly sci-fi sheet (not that there's anything wrong with that). The lyrics address various interesting topics usually with a spiritual edge from a biblical standpoint.
Since SYMPHONIC EXTREMITIES is actually a compilation of two 5-song demos it has a very raw sound but, other than the guitars going slightly out of sync near the beginning of "E.N.D.", it sounds just fine. All the instruments & vocals are clear and mixed properly -- what more do ya want? I'd much rather hear my metal produced like this than overproduced like on Metallica's BLACK ALBUM.