Though not really a genre of music to get a furnace of positive emotions raging within us here, heavy metal when crafted with an adventurous freshness and hunger is something which can at times raise the temperature as a welcome and pleasing riotous companion. UK band Grand Ultra is one such encounter which brings extra additives and imagination to an eighties seeded metal sound, and one who as shown by their new release No Sympathy, can rile up and ignite any stage, party and classic metal heart, let alone us.
From the Midlands, Grand Ultra since sowing its seeds in 2007 has earned and built a strong reputation around their region thanks to their live performances and heavy metal induced sounds. They began when vocalist Joe Hill disillusioned with his current project, began writing with guitarist Justin Larner who replied to an online ad from the singer. A few line-up changes occurred before finding stability with the addition of bassist Stuart Wildey and drummer Gary Evans in 2010. From this point the band just erupted into a formidable presence with their live debut and subsequent shows all gaining critical acclaim and a flourishing eager fan base. The following year saw the release of two tracks, both also featuring on the new EP, to earn further attention and praise upon band and record. No Sympathy is the next step in the rise of Grand Ultra and a riotous slab of mischievous pleasure it is too.
Sirens herald the approaching boisterous storm as the opener and title track unleashes a flurry of sinewy riffs and fine vocals from Hill. The track is soon a rampant feast of energy and metal aggression soaked in fluid melodies and electrified craft. It is a well-shaped song which fuses elements of thrash and classic rock into its muscular and compelling tempest of energies making for an encounter which checks off all the needs and desires of metal and rock fans.
The same can be said of the following Home Is Where The Heart Is and Get Your Rocks Off. Both songs, as with their predecessor, are fuelled by impressive guitar invention and melodic enterprise speared by forceful anthemic rhythms from the drums and the great heavy voice of the bass. The first of the pair is as immense as the first track; vocally Hill and the great group harmonies leading to another anthem bearing breath from the song whilst the sounds bustling around them manipulate limbs to do their energetic bidding. The second of the two is more of the same but distinct in sound and structure. It is a bar room bruiser with tightly twisting grooves and incendiary sonic displays of the guitar from Larner. Infectious in the extreme and passion inciting in its restrained sultry moments, the track is another delicious brew of melodic rock borne of classic and modern intent.
For personal tastes the release does tail off slightly from here on in but only because of the quality of the first three songs than from any lacking of substance the following old school metal based triple threat which completes the EP. Guns At Dawn is a harder proposition which whilst lessening the anthem lures still manages to be as catchy as anywhere else on the release whilst Alone Tonight steps right out from the eighties as if they were for an engagement which will thrill lovers of those times. Arguably there is a stronger emphasis on those classic elements on the pair of tracks which also goes towards their less effective gait for personal tastes here but both are undeniably accomplished and delivered with a rascally flair and impressive craft which still grabs strong grip on a satisfied ear.
Final song Goodbye Angel sees the full range and strength of vocalist Hill, its and his early ballad presence reminding a little of The Mission. The track soon creates flames of sonic invention and feisty energetic appetite to excite the senses. It is another classically soaked slab of metal which completes with fine style an excellent release.
If Grand Ultra is still an undiscovered pleasure for you than No Sympathy is the perfect gateway to their honest and thrilling sounds. You may not find anything particularly new upon the release but a compulsive and pleasing brawl of fun is a certain reward just awaiting your visit.
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