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Don't worry about it - 65%

severzhavnost, November 6th, 2013

I've hesitated to wade into the pool of split album reviews, to avoid getting stuck reviewing two albums at once. These two Brazilian bands make it easy. They make sense being on the same record, so not only can their contributions be compared well, "Ultimatum" can also be taken as a whole listening experience. Sadly, there's no such thing as super-mediocre. Sticking two unremarkable short releases together doesn't elevate the rather pedantic nature of the music. There is little here which either group could have used as a springboard to greater heights in the then-nascent Brazilian metal scene. "Ultimatum" is just ten average-length pieces of average-quality heavy metal. 

Both groups' guitars suffer from underexposure on the primitive recording, though it's a little meatier on the Metalmorphose side. Both singers come from the underground style of proto-speed NWOBHM. Both men enjoy throwing in examples of the uppermost limits of their possible notes, which further attaches them to the early 80s formula. Neither group gives you much of a drumming experience. In Metalmorphose's case that's because the vocals stand above the mix too much, whereas Dorsal Atlantica's drummer just doesn't do much that might grab your attention. His cymbals also come off a bit thin and tin-foily.

Another thing that speeds up this double-review is that you can summarize Dorsal Atlantica's output as though they put up one song. They're really all that similar. Guitars that flounder under poor recording, short blunt verses discussing some stock metal topic, and a simple chorus that's just the title repeated a few times. Oh, and a couple pretty cool guitar solos: one in "Princesa do Prazer" and another great passage to close out "Imperio de Sata". That's it. That's really all they do. I'll give singer Carlos Vandalo a bit of credit for experimenting with gruffer Venom-style snarls to mix things up here and there. And I'm happy that the early 80s primitiveness of the record helps the bass thump out a pleasing, if technically unimpressive, cloud of warm fuzziness. All in all, quite a play-it-safe collection of songs.

Metalmorphose have more varied ideas in their music, I'll give them that. "Nosso Futuro" and "Complexo Urbano" are fierce youth-fuelled speed metal, like young Voivod but with cleaner vocals. Both are also backed up by really quick, snappy bass in the Hellhammer mold. Then there's "Harpya", which stands above the album more than any other. Before they can't resist buggering it up, that is. It starts with an interesting flute melody, and you think this might be a candidate for a Brazilian "Stairway to Heaven". Then Tavinho Godoy jumps in with a pitiful attempt at crooning balladry. Oh dear Lord. He not only sounds so plaintively weak, his voice actually warbles out of pitch. This annoying wail pops up in too many other places too, such as fouling up what could have been a manic guitar solo to wind up "Complexo Urbano".

At this point, Metalmorphose seemed to have the brighter future, but as time went on Dorsal Atlantica proved to be the more lasting band. As a starter, "Ultimatum" is good for the completist, and for occasional bouts of nostalgia, but you're not missing a vital piece of Brazilian metal history if you sit this one out.