Released: 2015, Earthquake Terror Noise Records
Reviewer: Peter Atkinson
The debut from Italian trio Ultimate Holocaust brings something of a different twist, at least thematically, to revivalist thrash metal/retro-thrash/rethrash. Blackmail The Nation is a conceptual work right out of a James Bond/Man From U.N.C.L.E spy vs. spy yarn. Here, special agent U.L.T.I.M.A.T.E. battles the mad terrorist agent H.O.L.O.C.A.U.S.T., known as Lord of Replication, in some sort of cyberwarfare/espionage scenario, at least from what I could gather from the band's scant press materials.
Whatever. Though that all might sound a bit cheesy, it's a welcome change from the usual thrash formulaics, even if the story line can be a bit tough to follow because of bassist/vocalist Bianchi's hoarse, atonal vocals and rapid-fire delivery. And it shows some genuine though went into the lyrics, which is more than one can say about too many bands of this ilk.
Musically, though, Ultimate Holocaust are firmly entrenched in the retro-thrash dynamic, offering plenty of old-school chug and blast, double-bass powered tempos and moshable hooks. Yet while their sound echoes many of the usual influences – Exodus, Testament, Nuclear Assault – it takes a more rough and tumble approach, a la Sodom.
The combination of the band's loose and limber performance and the album's gritty production gives the material plenty of bite. On the flip-side, the nifty Maiden-esque twin solos that can be found on the opener “U.L.T.I.M.A.T.E. (Protector of the World),” “Out Of Frequencies” and elsewhere show these guys – guitarist Tambo in particular – are capable of some serious dexterity.
All in all, Blackmail The Nation is a pretty credible debut from a still relatively unknown act. Despite its certainly familiar ring, at least musically, its pulp novel storyline provides about as fresh a take as one can ask for from a pretty played out sub-genre. And I guess that's good enough.