Reviewer: Carl Pickles
There seems to be something of a resurgence of what, back in the 80’s, we used to call Sleaze Metal, as lead by the likes of Zodiac Mindwarp & The Love Reaction. Newer bands like Jettblack and Crashdiet along with the resurrection of Bang Tango and The Electric Boys is definitely reviving interest in a genre that Grunge tried it’s best to kill.
On the evidence of No Sympathy, we can add Grand Ultra to that list of bands.
Grand Ultra spring out of the fertile ground of Nottinghamshire here in the UK with a confident debut mini-album. This is a band who have the potential to go places, going by the swagger shown on No Sympathy. Joe Hill’s vocals are somewhat reminiscent of former Tigertailz frontman, Kim Hooker and Sebastian Bach, formerly of Skid Row. This is definitely no bad thing.
He’s ably backed by a very tight rhythm section, in the shape of bassist Stuart Wildey and tub-thumper, Gazz Evans, as well as the high energy riffing and never-overdone soloing of guitarist, Justin Larner. If anything, Grand Ultra have the same kind of fusion of melody and aggression you’ll have heard on Skid Row’s Slave To The Grind album.
The opening title track storms out of your speakers with the sound of an air raid siren and some muscular guitar playing paired with Joe Hill’s very own siren scream, and from there, the pace is kept all the way up through Home Is Where The Heart Is (which, surprisingly enough going by the title, isn’t a ballad), Get Your Rocks Off and Guns At Dawn.
Alone Tonight is one of the album’s highlights. All the swagger and the confidence shown the previous tracks fully clicks into gear with a truly bravura performance from Joe Hill and also giving a little space for Justin Larner to give it some welly. Gang-style backing vocals on a song like this can never be wrong. It’s a real surprise that this song is just a little shy of four minutes. It feels so much bigger than that.
Not surprisingly, the boys save the best to last. Goodbye Angel starts with Hill on his best wailing form before the rest of the band storm in like that shot of adrenaline Nikki Sixx happened to mention. Larners’ solo just puts the tin hat on it.
In short, this is a cracking little mini-album, and if you remember the late 80’s with the kind of fondness that I do, and are also loving the resurgence of that type of music and the return of those bands, you really do need some Grand Ultra in your life.