Released: 2015, Candlelight Records
Reviewer: Peter Atkinson
Italian droogies Ultra-Violence return for a second round of freewheeling throwback thrash, with an emphasis on throwback. From their affinity for/obsession with “A Clockwork Orange” to the '80s-era Ed Repka artwork and the cover of Venom's “Don't Burn The Witch,” Ultra-Violence wear their influences a bit farther out on their sleeves than most of the many other old school revivalists.
But they also bring it with quite a vengeance on Deflect The Flow and certainly mean business. This is no lazy, bandwagon-hopping exercise that uses obvious reference points to just go through the motions. Deflect is a brash, ballsy, often breathless album that bristles with energy and purpose, and at its core has a sound that has enough of its own identity so as to offer a fresh take on what has become a rather stale movement. Ultra-Violence may borrow elements from a bevy of U.S. thrash veterans – the hard-charging attack of Death Angel, the gang choruses of Exodus or Violence, the sheer exuberance of Nuclear Assault, etc. – but they don’t sound like any one of them in particular.
And while the band's songwriting chops still need some developing – “Why So Serious” and “In The Name Of Your God” are a couple all-over-place clunkers and many of the songs are too long and busy - the enthusiasm and vigor on display here is infectious and then some. Ultra-Violence go for the gusto from the outset with the rip-roaring opener “Burning Through The Scars” that boasts some nifty, quick-cut Hannemann-like riffs and a pace that borders on frantic. The breakdown section at the end is superfluous, but the rest of the song kills.
“Lost In Decay” is equally savage, but more concise, with some wicked squealing solos from Andrea Vacchiotti. The more complex “The Checkered Sun” weaves in lead tradeoffs and harmonies and show some real pizazz, and it pares well with the faithful, stripped down cover of “Don't Burn The Witch.” “Gavel’s Bang,” on the other hand, has an old-school Testament slow-build and fist-pumping chug that makes for a nice change of pace.
The album kind of limps to the finish, however, with the nearly seven-minute-each tandem of “The Way I'll Stay” and the Maiden-esque “Fractal Dimension,” both of which could have packed a much more efficient wallop with a couple minutes of fat trimmed off. Indeed, the last third of “Stay” seems like another song entirely, whereas “Fractal” offers the same needless breakdown conclusion as “Burning” – though its dueling lead break is sensational.
Despite some obvious blemishes, Ultra-Violence are a band whose potential seems like it will soon catch up with their ambition. They are young and hungry, and a bit more seasoning from touring could whip these guys into top form fairly quickly. Deflect The Flow is a good album that yearns to be great. The next album seems destined to be.