I love underground music, if it brings out some obvious talent, and especially if it’s from outside my home country – the USA. Turin, Italy’s Ultra-Violence (yeah, like Death Angel, or A Clockwork Orange, your choice) seems to fit that bill. Their newest, Privilege To Overcome, is a long-playing album full of indulgent, choppy rhythms that are sure to please a thrash enthusiast.
The album’s production or sound is very clean, and crisp, as most modern ‘done digital’ extreme metal tends to be. Listening to many current releases in a very short amount of time, I’m beginning to be able to tell who’s produced their album in the ‘new typical’ way: each instrument recorded separately to a digital console. At least on my system, it seems like the more clear and ‘perfect’ the sound is, the more likely it’s digital. A quick viewing of their official ‘making of the album’ video revealed that in this case, it’s true.
An artifact of modern digital production is ‘the phenomenon of the perfect drummer.’ Here we have a band of fairly youthful members, formed in 2009, with one of those seemingly flawless percussionists. In musician circles, it’s said to be next to impossible to find a drummer at that skill level, and the ones who do exist are either busy, or far out of budget. So while I enjoy the perfect percussion, I also have a little skepticism over their ‘not a beat or a cymbal chime out of place’ playing.
This record has some very punchy, aggressive, in-your face guitar work, as most of these thrash albums tend to have. Most of the songs have a very strong, interesting, two-part guitar with a well-executed harmony line. What I like about the lead is the phrasing, as it’s different from most. Not in the hyperspeed portions – it’s when he slows down and takes more then 3 milliseconds to select notes where he breathes some life or genuine originality in to these compositions.
We’re treated to many different vocal presentations: from typical thrash to a black metal screech to hatecore and back to thrash. It’s reminiscent of what bands like Howl are doing. The vocalist is mixed in fairly low, so the guitar does tend to take front and center, as it should in thrash metal. The production gets a lot louder when the vocalist isn’t engaged, so listeners get a type of ‘ads are louder then the TV show’ punch when the instrumental parts come in.
This band really shines when they ‘go black’ – when a song’s passage goes from their brand of thrash, to the much faster-paced, higher-pitched, more frenetic sound of death or black metal. Check out some of the hyperspeed passages in “Order Of The Black”, “Stigmatized Reality”, or “Ride Across the Storm”. Their energy channels so effectively when they embrace their venomous anger.
Another highlight is the rhythmic division or tempo shift. It seems to be used very well to highlight parts of certain riffs. Check out passages throughout “The Beast Behind Your Back” or “I.D.F.Y”, and you’ll be able to appreciate what changing the tempo or accent does to a good guitar lick.
Criticisms: The first has the most obvious solution. Less compression on this album’s final mix would definitely have improved the low end, specifically the bass drum, significantly. Dave Lombardo and Tom Hunting don’t use a typewriter to bring their percussive thunder forth. Neither should Ultra-Violence. Another item would be the angry high-school hatecore vocal. From watching the ‘making of the album’ video, he’s straining way too hard. Breath control, or ‘learning the art of screaming’ would improve the presentation. They’ve spent considerable time and effort on learning guitar, why not also spend some time and effort on developing the voice from a ‘natural scream’? He has a great blackmetal screech, so it’s not a problem with the vocal per se – he’s just stronger in a more extreme framework then your typical angry screamer. Finally, an investment in cover art is wise, but an equal investment in to the fine details of production, like the correct song tags, is even more wise. When I put an album in to my CD player, I don’t want to have to guess what “04_MASTER_final” might be, especially when all of the other tunes have their correct title tags. Is that nitpicky? Maybe. What I was looking for, was a band who paid attention to perfecting the little details, like they did for the drum beats. They’re good in some areas, weak in others, but it’s a label debut. Give them some time, and they’ll grow in to a very fine, and very potent musical force.
Is Privilege To Overcome genre-upholding? Sure. Is it going to change the world? Nah. What it is, is great driving music ‘to get a speeding ticket’. None of the parts on the album ‘grabbed’ me exceptionally, but many of them did have me bangin’ my head and stomping my feet. It is a very listenable effort. As an additional bonus, the album features brutal cover art by Ed Repka (Death, Massacre, Megadeth, Hellraiser movies, etc). Is it enjoyable? Most definitely. Can you bang your head to it? You bet your sweet behind you can!
Spell of the Moon
Order of the Black
Turn into Dust
The Voodoo Cross
The Beast Behind Your Back
10,000 Ways to Spread My Hate
Metal Milizia (Ira Cover)
When Past & Future Collide
Ride Across the Storm
Loris Castiglia (vocals/guitars)
Andrea Vacchiotti (guitars)
Roberto ”Robba” Dimasi (bass)
Simone Verre (drums)