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Symphonic Extremities (Expanded Edition)
Artist: Ultimatum
Label: Retroactive Records
Time: 14 tracks/72:51 minutes

The history behind this, Ultimatum's first full-length, is confusing and complicated. First, the band released a demo tape called Fatal Delay in 1993. A five-song demo tape called Symphonic Extremities followed in 1995. The band then decided to re-release this second demo,  including the songs from Fatal Delay re-recorded as yet another demo. Before this happened Juke Box Media expressed interest in the record and received the rights to release it on CD, including a bonus track called "World of Sin" from a compilation, that would later be re-recorded and released on their second album _Puppet of Destruction_.

Confused yet?

The Juke Box media version was poorly mastered and generally had terrible sound quality, and also went out of print rather fast. The album quickly became very rare and started selling on EBay for exorbitant fees to crazy Ultimaniacs who never got it during its initial release. Finally, it has been reissued again on Retroactive Records, remastered, remixed, with superior art and some bonus tracks.

The album itself is a mixed bag, but often better than not. The band were still finding their sound. In that way this is their most diverse album, but it also suffers from a lack of direction. Songs like the title track and "Blink" are excellent thrash tunes, yet songs like the over-long "Megaton" and the ballad "The Grip" fall flat. Scott's voice just isn't suited for ballads; fortunately this is the only one the band has recorded.

The bonus tracks are a great addition. "Wickedness & Perdition" is a rare track from the Fatal Delay demo the band decided not to release on the first pressing of Symphonic Extremities. This was probably a wise decision as it sounds absolutely nothing like the band's other songs, resembling a combination of Black Sabbath and Aerosmith instead of the usual thrash. Also the original, longer version of "Fatal Delay" is included. The final bonus track is a recent live medley of "Blink" along with a cover of Iron Maiden's "Wrathchild." Not only does this show how tight the band has become, it also shows the excellence of their explosive live show.

Though the band has topped Symphonic Extremities with their excellent newer albums like last years Into the Pit, this is still an important part of Ultimatum's history, showing a band unsure of themselves, but still passionate. This reissue finally gets it right, and is recommended to all fans of the band, new and old. Ultimaniacs rejoice!

Noah Salo



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