Reviewed: June, 2019
Released: 2019 on Scarlet Records
Reviewer: Lee Carter
ULVEDHARR. This gig has thrown up some incredible band names before, but this one is certainly an interesting one. A cursory glance across the interwebs gives no immediate alternative translation, nor anything else apart from the band themselves. Props to the band’s completely unique name and nous with SEO – certainly will help them stand out. With their latest, “World Of Chaos”, under the microscope, what are they presenting to the fold?
So it’s death metal, what more do you want? These Italians have been around the block a fair few times (three), and, as this is their fourth go around, it’s safe to assume that their craft has been suitably mastered. There are no surprises, no frills and no filler; just relentless death metal with a healthy thrash leaning that will surely tickle the old schoolers’ spuds. That’s not to say the more modern thrash and deathers won’t get a kick out of it, but you can easily see this sitting alongside a more aggy METALLICA back in the 80s.
The record barely gives you time to settle into your favourite metal listening chair before it’s beating you upside the skull with double bass and thrash riffs. If it is true that first impressions last, then any newcomer will know all they need to about ULVEDHARR from the off with “What Have We Done”. Aggressive, wild and with plenty of galloping thrash riffs that are guaranteed to get a live pit descending in a flailing, multi-limbed monster of bodies. It’s like slipping on an old, comfy pair of slippers – warm, welcoming and safe.
Granted, the snarling nature of the beast is anything but safe (despite an album of similar cuts throughout), and there’s little to suggest that it lacks punch. “Death Stare” bludgeons well with it’s guest appearance from Lars Göran Petrov, whilst “Fallout” grinds up a nuclear storm, with the slow radiation death suitably intact. But it’s when mid-album breather “Chemical Wind Imbalance” rears, with a malevolent sound of minor-key guitar noodling and a cold wind soundscape, that the album gets put into sharp relief.
Returning to that term earlier: “safe”. What would make the album sound safe? Well, for the fact that it doesn’t push any boundaries, or make any ventures into uncharted territory. The attack and fury is all there – “Pull The Trigger” can testify to that – but “World Of Chaos” doesn’t attempt to be anything different than what has come before. ULVEDHARR can write a stonking good death metal song, that much is unmistakable, but when you’re hearing the influences and imagining them being first on the bill of a gig with their heroes as opposed to headlining, it becomes a little deflating.
With a new approach where ULVEDHARR opted to eschew their traditional lyrical content concerning the medieval or mythological for more contemporaries topics, “World Of Chaos” was said to “throw you in a spiral of fear, paranoia & self-destruction [sic]”. No. Well. If it was describing the overall sound of the album, then fair enough (if ever so generic); otherwise the level of fear, paranoia and self-destruction remains the same. “World Of Chaos” will ably sit alongside many other contemporaries on the shelf (or computer library), but just don’t expect it to be classic go-to album for the genre. The name may be unique, and the music suitably chaotic, but the overall material will seem rather familiar.