Ultra-Violence – Operation Misdirection (Candlelight/Spinefarm Records)Tuesday, 31st July 2018
Previously coming to this scribe’s attention through their debut album Privilege to Overcome on Punishment 18 Records in 2013, the follow up Deflect the Flow didn’t find Ultra-Violence shedding many of their second tier 80’s Bay Area thrash propensities. There’s always another chance to right the ship though – and Operation Misdirection showcases latest drummer Francesco La Rosa and seven originals plus an 80’s classic rock staple turned metal for a cover. And while no one can fault the tightness and execution of riffs, gang vocals, and totality of the record – once again the quartet aren’t elevating their material to that ‘next’ level if they hope to attract a wider, fervent fan base.
The flow of the album alternates between longer arrangements that average out around six-minutes and focused, tighter compositions – allowing the musicians plenty of opportunity to showcase intricacies as well as instrumental interplay, while never losing the plot of speed riffs and mid-tempo breakdowns. All parts are evident in the opener “Cadaver Decomposition Island”, which features some popping bass spotlights from Andrea Lorenti, accelerated shred guitar action, and changes that can go from all-out assault to something more in line with groove/modern metal. Beefed up gang vocals, tribal-like transitions, and gallop heavy crunch falls in line with Exodus/Testament for the follow-up “Welcome to the Freakshow”, while the octopus snare hits, fill madness, and double kick intensity aid second half favorite “Shining Perpetuity” – guitarist Loris Castiglia wavering between Chuck Billy bellows and an acidic Italian-accented Schmier for vocal comparison’s sake. Everyone lately seems to want to put their own spin on “Money for Nothing” by Dire Straits (Gus G did so on his current record), and given the Ultra-Violence treatment it’s tougher, groovier, thrashier, yet not really rendering it the iconic song that it’s become.
Two bonus live studio cuts tacked on at the end come from their two previous studio albums – benefiting from better production techniques and obviously stronger musical chemistry this many years down the road. Tack on a typical Ed Repka cover, and you’ll understand that Operation Misdirection doesn’t necessarily misfire in its thrash stance – it’s just more of the same we’ve come to expect and won’t push the band above underground status when younger bands like Warbringer and Havok bring so much more to the table.