Released: 2004, Mastervox Records
Reviewer: Luxi Lahtinen
The never-ending stream of power metal bands coming out of Finland seems to be quite the phenomena these days. These new bands that follow the golden paths of such power metal forces as Stratovarius, Sonata Arctica, Thunderstone, Twilightning and other bands of that ilk don’t exactly give a boner to all metal fans. At least, not for me anyway. But then again, I have the ability to feel, sense and hear if there’s at least a bit of musical talent when I listen to bands from this particular genre. In Ultimatium’s case, they make fast-paced and melodic power/traditional metal. Doesn’t necessarily sound that bad after all...
“Follow Me” starts off the album and you can’t avoid comparing Ultimatum to KEEPERS-era Helloween. “Follow Me” possesses the same kind of “magic” and uncompromising catchiness that reminds me of that era of Helloween. Even the band’s vocalist, JT Partanen, manages to sound a bit like Kai Hansen, which makes the opening song feel calculated. It’s my favorite song off of the album though.
Up next is the title track which is also reminiscent of Hansen–era Helloween, but is played with a more modern power metal approach. Another good song ... try to guess who’s really starting to dig this band.
After two strong tracks, the band seems to get lost. “Cut Deep Eternally” feels half-done structurally because it because it doesn’t have that extra push it needs so badly. The most disturbing element of this song is Partanen’s voice. He tries too hard and fails in his attempt to amaze listeners. Makes me wonder what on earth happened?
“Disfunctional” is a mostly fast-tempo instrumental song, before settling down a bit in the end. It also has a nice Helloween feel to it. “In Winter Nights” is a traditional power metal song with a breath-takingly fast tempo, though it doesn’t offer anything unexpected nor ground-breaking. In fact, it bored me. “In My Dreams” doesn’t do much for me either. As the song title probably hints at, it’s a ballad.
“Rain & Storm” brings back some of those old Helloween–tinged elements and Partanen finds the right path again vocally. Actually, he sounds quite damn convincing with his occasionally high-pitched Hansen–plagiarism thrown in here and there. Even if similar stuff has been churned out a thousand times before, I like the song. It has relatively catchy moments.
“Through Winterland” doesn’t do anything for me either. When a song only sounds OK to me, it just doesn’t have enough to gain my attention even if it has a lot of fanfare to it. The song tends to sound like a leftover and it might have been wiser to leave it off of the album. Since I wasn’t there to make any decisions on song selection for NEW DAWN maybe I should back off politely and keep my mouth shut in the name of “good journalism.”
The album’s closer “Fly High, Rise To Then Sky”, despite its clichéd name, is one of the better tunes on the album. The first couple minutes don’t offer anything surprising, but around the 3:30 mark the song starts reaching more epic atmospheres that take the song to a whole new level. It would be cool if Ultimatum were able to write similar stuff for their next effort because this song proves that there’s some promising potential in this band after all.
NEW DAWN is a pretty good start for Ultimatium and the guys have nothing to be ashamed of. Then again, we do have every right to expect more from them on their next album.