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The Mechanics of Perilous Times
Artist: Ultimatum
Label: Retroactive Records
13 tracks/64:50
Ultimatum is a Christian thrash metal band that has been around for sixteen years, based out of Albuquerque, New Mexico. They have remastered this recording that was initially released in 2001, adding three bonus tracks. Sean Griego pounds out a relentless stream of sledgehammer rhythms on the drums while Tom Michaels fills the low end with his booming bass guitar. Guitarists Robert Guitierrez and Steve Trujillo have no problem laying down one series after another of crunching power chords. Vocalist Scott Waters sounds like a cackling, demonic gargoyle spewed forth from the bowels of the Earth, only he is indeed praising God in all his glory.

The booklet that accompanies the disc includes lyrics to each track, which many listeners will appreciate as Waters vocal style takes some getting use to before you can comprehend the message. The band also lists appropriate scripture texts to study for greater understanding of many of the songs. 

"Perilous Times" sends out a warning that is no less relevant today as Waters screams out ". Hatred grows bold, persecution begins. Wars and rumors, rage and death is all around. Natural disaster and destruction abounds" with the band developing a musical maelstrom in support.  The pace of "Greed Regime, Inc." undergoes several changes that keep the seven and a half minute interesting throughout, while expounding on placing more value on riches than on faith, asking ". Can we reduce Almighty God to an indulgent Santa Claus?".

Other highlights include a raging cover of Vengeance Rising's "Burn" with it's ". burn, Satan, burn ..." refrain and the instrumental "Muta Mitlu" that gives each musician a chance to burn. "The Purging" is a confessional hymn that strips away the sins of this life to humble oneself before God, the Father Almighty.
The bonus tracks include a rough demo of "Temple of the Spirit" which opens the disc, a demo of "Heart of Metal" featuring new bass player Rob Whitlock and a live version of "Greed Regime, Inc." from a 2005 California show. This cut proves that the band is a formidable live act and not a creation of studio wizardry.
Ultimatum only knows one way to play it -- fast, loud, heavy and with plenty of passion for their faith in God. Their songs hold up over repeated listens, with enough variety in pacing to breakup the aural assault long enough for listeners to catch their breath. Some might question if Ultimatum is ". making a joyful noise." If you believe that faith and worship can take many forms -- especially intensely spirited and loud -- this disc will quickly be a favorite. 
Mark Thompson (a 55 year old who typically finds thrash metal a boring listen)

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