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Review: Ultimatum - The Iron Age
The Iron Age

Label: Independent
Year released: 1995
Duration: 50:44
Tracks: 8
Genre: Thrash Metal


Review online: October 11, 2019
Reviewed by: Mjölnir
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Rated 4/5 (80%) (5 Votes)

There are several bands named Ultimatum, two of which are Thrash Metal acts from Canada. This is the one that actually got a full-length out before vanishing without a trace, and it's just good enough for that fact to be a damn shame.

You could easily describe this album as a more epic and adventurous version of Ride the Lighting, as The Iron Age mines that same vein of sprawling, slightly proggy Thrash that Shitallica used to make back when they were worth a damn, and everything from the production to the vocals owes a lot to that album. The riffing is solid and heavy, the playing is tight, and the songs are a lot more intricate and ambitious than Thrash usually bothers with. Unfortunately, they also tend to be a little too sprawling and restrained for their own good, so the music on here is often unfocused and only occasionally breaks out of its mid-paced marching to really let go and thrash. The vocals of Mark Minnis are also a big drawback, as he sounds almost exactly like James Hetfield and has all the glaring limitations that he had, only Mark also throws in some rather flat narration and even attempts an air-raid yell on "Left of Centre", which sounds more like a spot-on impression of Tom from Tom and Jerry than anyone you'd be scared of.

Having said all that, Ultimatum stand out by being better musicians than Selloutica ever were and even having some genuine epics on here like the title track and the excellent "The Siege of Caffa", which has "lost Thrash classic" written all over it. Even when they lose focus, they never become uninteresting, and when they do decide to speed up and thrash, they thrash pretty fucking hard. It's a shame they never got a chance to tighten up their songwriting and maybe get a better singer before splitting up, but I suppose that's just the way of the underground, especially for a Thrash band in the heart of the Metal Dark Ages. This can be pretty hard to find, but fans of more ambitious Thrash will want to track this down.

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