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Into the Pit
Artist: Ultimatum
Label: Retroactive Records
Time: 11 tracks/44:40 minutes

Ultimatum is an American thrash band from Albuquerque, New Mexico. The band is relatively well-known to Christian metal heads, but lead singer Scott Waters is famous in the whole world's metal community, being a massive CD collector who has posted full reviews of the over ten-thousand CDs in his collection at his website "No Life Til Metal."

Into the Pit is the band's fourth full-length effort. Ultimatum's other three records were consistently good, but not great. They have the Exodus meets Death Angel thrash thing down, but have been consistently marred by poor production and same-sounding songs. This album remedies both of those problems and is all the better for it. The production is clean and heavy. Opener "One For All" hits like a ton of bricks. Sledgehammer heavy guitars and pounding bass give way to Scott's chorus shrieks that are so heavy that they sound inhuman, yet no vocal after effects were used.  This completely shows off the professional studio quality of the recording, and the techniques of a producer who actually knows what metal should sound like! Producer Ysidro Garcia should be saluted for creating what is easily the best sounding Ultimatum record yet.

What really makes this record stand out is the songs though. The band has always worn their classic thrash influences on their sleeves, never afraid to back down from the classic sound. Their sound has not evolved much over the course of four records, and that may bug some, but musical evolution has never been this band's focus. Instead they are out to have fun, make some "neck snappin', fist pumpin', head banding" heavy metal, and preach the gospel while they're at it. Can't fault them for consistency. However the problem with their older albums was that the songs just blended together, especially on their first two albums. This album remedies that, each track has a hook, a catchy chorus, blazing solos, and most importantly, every song is recognizably unique from the one that preceded it.

There are many standout cuts: including aforementioned "One for All," the speed frenzy of "Deathwish," and the anthemic "Blind Faith" What's more, they even include an excellent cover of the Iron Maiden classic "Wrathchild" that will stay stuck in your head for days.

The biggest letdown of this album is that it is already so familiar. Fans have been waiting six long years for a new Ultimatum platter, and though this delivers, fans will soon be begging for more. Of the album's eleven tracks, four were previously released in demo form on 2006's "...til the End!"  EP. Also "Blink" is a re-recorded song from the first record, leaving only five new Ultimatum-penned songs on this record. Regardless of the quality of the music, I still want more after six years of waiting! Hopefully it won't be such a long wait for the next one.

Noah Salo 



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