Ultimatum
Ultimatum are an American power/thrash metal band from New Mexico formed by guitarist Robert Gutierrez and Steve Trujillo in 1992 from the ashes of their band Holy Sacrifice. Steve remained in the group until 2004, when he was replaced by Augustine Ortiz (ex-the Seventh Circle) then later Justin Frear (ex-Tykkus). Drummer Sean Griego joined the band in 1995 and remained with the band through 2007. Ultimatum have gone through many bassists, including Greg Dingess, who recorded on the band "Fatal Delay" demo, and Tom Micheals (Seventhsign) who recorded on the band's first three full length CDs. During the recording of "Into the Pit". long time drummer Sean Griego was replaced by new drummer Alan Tuma (ex-Moshketeers). Rob Whitlock joined Ultimatum the summer of 2002 and remained a constant member through 2012.

Symphonic Re-issue
Ultimatum - Symphonic Extremities
(Juke Box Media) 1995
Ultimatum - Symphonic Extremities (Retroactive) 2007

1. "Symphonic Extremities" (4:31)
2. "The Killing Fields" (4:32)
3. "E.N.D. (Erroneous Notion of Death)" (4:59)
4. "Black Light" (4:09)
5. "Darkest Void" (3:59)
6. "Ode to Noise" [instrumental] (1:57)
7. "The Grip" (6:16)
8. "Fatal Delay" (7:52)
9. "Megaton" (6:01)
10. "Blink" (2:57)
BONUS TRACK
11. "World of Sin" (4:58)

2007 Reissue bonus tracks
12. "Wickedness & Perdition" [demo] (5:44)
13. "Fatal Delay" [demo] (9:01)
14. "Blink/Wrathchild" [live] (6:13)

Ultimatum 1995
Ultimatum 1995 promo photo: (L - R) Mike Lynch, Scott Waters, Steve Trujillo, Tom Michaels, Robert Gutierrez


Ultimatum 1996: Steve Trujillo, Sean Griego, Scott Waters and Robert Gutierrez

I have mixed feelings about this CD. Songs like "Darkest Void" and "Blink" are all metal classics, and the title track is still one of my all time favorite songs. We still pull all these songs out and play them live. However, compared to the albums to follow this one doesn't hold water, mostly due to the weak production. I have long wanted to see "Blink" and "Symphonic Extremties" re-recorded with a better production and Sean Griego behind the kit. His double bassing and aggressive style would fit this song a bit better than Mike Lynch, who actually played on this song despite the fact that Sean is listed and pictured on the CD insert. Favorite tracks are: "Symphonic Extremities", "Killing Fields", "Darkest Void" and "Blink". I also have always liked the lyrics to "The Grip." Always thought this song would be a really cool "unplugged" track.

What most people don't know is that this album is really just a compilation of two demos. We were unhappy with their 1993 demo "Fatal Delay" so we went into the studio in early 1994 and recorded a five song demo tape titled "Symphonic Extremities by Ultimatum". Only about 50 copies were ever pressed and sent out to various record labels and magazines for review. (These demo tapes are extremely rare! I don't even have one.) After that we recorded a second five song demo that was never released. Instead we compiled the two demos and released an independent ten song cassette tape also titled "Symphonic Extremeties". The tape sold so well that Juke Box Media, a small independent record company, decided to pick it up and release it on CD. However they released it as is, in it's raw demo form with no mastering or remixing. Juke Box Media didn't have the money to have us go into the studio and re-record the songs, so they put the demos together along with the bonus track and released it as is. So, "Symphonic Extremities" was never properly recorded. At the time, we were just excited to get something out on CD. The CD did well for us and even managed to get onto the Hard Music Charts in the CCM circuit. The label initially pressed 1,000 copies, which quickly sold out. Soon after they pressed another 1,000 copies which also quickly sold out. We thought this wasn't too shabby considering the label didn't really have any distribution. They sold mostly through on-line networks and through magazine adds. Unfortunately, Juke Box Media went out of business and into obscurity, quickly making this disc increasingly harder to find. It now sells on eBay for around $30 or more.

I should also mention that it was the label's idea to put the little yellow band on the front cover that says "Includes bonus track mixed by Rex Carroll." I protested over this since I designed the cover, but the label thought it would sell more copies.

2007 REISSUE BONUS TRACKS
Symphonic Extremities had been out of print for nearly a decade. The original CD pressing was only around 2000 copies, so when a copy showed up on Ebay, they usually sold for over $30. I saw one copy sell for $47. In 2007 Retroactive Records re-release "Symphonic" with remastered sound and a 6-page, color booklet. Despite the fact that the original recordings were raw to begin with, the sound is certainly improved here. The reissue also includes three bonus tracks. "Wickedness & Perdition" and "Fatal Delay" are both taken from the 1993 "Fatal Delay" demo tape. The original intro to "Wickedness & Perdition" is also included. The album version of "Fatal Delay" is nearly a minute and a half shorter than the demo version. After releasing the demo we realized that some parts of the song were just too drawn out and shortened it, especially the bridge in the middle of the song. The live version of "Blink" includes a impromptu version of "Wrathchild" (Iron Maiden) towards the end of the song. The song was recorded at the Up From the Ashes II festival in California in 2006. I remember it being an incredibly hot and sweaty day that day. We put on a very energetic set and this was the last song in the set. We were all wrecked on stage, but were having a blast. I think that comes across in the song, despite the fact that the vocals sound a little warn, which they were. The cover is very similar to the original release but deletes the silly yellow strip on the lower left hand corner and add the tilted Ultimatum logo, rather than the straight one on the original. The insert includes a short write-up by yours truly.

A rough demo mix of "World of Sin" appears on the "Massive Frequencly Overload" compilation.

Live Extremities Ultimatum - Live Extremities (bootleg) 1997

1. Ode To Noise / World Of Sin (6:37)
2. Symphonic Extremities (5:36)
3. Black Light (4:42)
4. Guitar Improv. (:56)
5. Darkest Void (5:22)
6. Bass Improv. (1:23)
7. Chalk Line (4:00)
8. Killing Fields (6:26)
9. Fatal Delay (9:12)
10. Blink (3:46)
11. Megaton (7:01)

"Live Extremities" is a live bootleg recording of Ultimatum from 1996. The cover pictured above is actually a bootleg of the bootleg which was released with permission from the band, yet still is not an official release. The original CD bootleg on Bottomline Records had several mistakes on the liner notes, including listing the song "Chalk Line" as "Chalk Time" and listing the show as "Live in Texas". In reality, this show was recorded at a club called Gee Willigans in Albuquerque, NM. The line-up was Robert Gutierrez - guitars, Scott Waters - vocals, Steve Trujillo - guitars, Tom Michaels - bass and Mike Lynch - drums. For a bootleg recording from the 1990's that I can only assume was through some sort of condensor mic, the sound quality isn't too bad. I've heard officially released live albums that sound as bad, or worst. The show is a barnstormer. The band were fired up and obviously feeding off good crowd energy. The shows is mostly made up of songs from "Symphonic Extremities". As such, there are a lot of songs here that the band no longer perform live. "Chalk Line" was never officially recorded and was dropped from the band's set after Tom Michaels left the band to join Seventhsign. The song actually had progressed a bit from this version before it was finally dropped. Frankly, I had forgotten about the song until this bootleg re-surfaced. Part of "Chalk Line" ended up in a Seventhsign song on their "Transparent" CD. The improvised bass and guitar solos are a nice addition as well. The newly released bootleg features new artwork by Brian Marshall (JBM Design) who has done work for Cyrstavox, among others.

Puppet remaster
Ultimatum - Puppet of Destruction
(Rowe Productions) 1998
Ultimatum - Puppet of Destruction (Roxx Records) 2009

1. "Never" (4:03)
2. "Mortal Stomp" (5:29)
3. "Scorn" (4:45)
4. "Puppet of Destruction" (4:19)
5. "Gutterbox" (5:02)
6. "Repentance" (4:02)
7. "World of Sin" (4:57)
8. "Crosshope" (4:35)
9. "Conform to Reality" (3:26)
10. "Charged/Power" (4:53)

2009 REMASTER BONUS TRACKS
11. "Never" [demo] (3:59)
12. "Sins of Omission" (4:45)
13. "Mortal Stomp '08" (5:32)

2009 REMASTER BONUS DISC (Fatal Delay demo)
1. "Intro" [instrumental] (:43)
2. "Wickedness & Perdition" (5:01)
3. "Fatal Delay" [demo version] (9:01)
4. "All I Need" (5:19)
5. "Plea for Holiness" (5:28)

Ultimatum 1995
Ultimatum 2002 (L - R) Scott Waters, Steve Trujillo & Robert Gutierrez

 


Robert Gutierrez 2003

Puppet of Destruction still ranks among my favorites. I was disappointed with how Rowe Productions mastered the CD as the bottom end just isn't there like it should be. Other than that I was happy with the way this CD came out, especially on the low (read: NO) budget we had at the time. Originally we were signed to Morphine Records for this album. However, due to financial problems with that label we left them and hooked up with Rowe/Diamante. "Never" is one of my favorite songs ever. The downpicking on this song is so fast and accurate that Mustaine or Hetfield would have been proud. This is one song that we have played at just about every show we have ever performed since we wrote it. I also like the newer version of "World of Sin" on this CD to the version on "Symphonic". Sean Greigo's double bass assault worked well with this song and really gave it the extra kick it needed. "Mortal Stomp" is probably the most requested song we get at live shows. "Gutterbox" is another favorite of mine. It has a newer Overkill groove that I really dig. This song is also a regular part of our live show. "Crosshope" was a bit experimental for us but I think the song worked fairly well. The lyrics to this song were inspired by a book I was reading at the time called "No Wonder they Call Him the Savior" by Max Lucado. "Charged/Power" is actually suppose to be two songs. "Charged" was meant to be the instrumental beginning of the song, whereas "Power" was the actual song itself. However, the song became one and is now known as "Charge/Power". This is another favorite. I love the way the song ends with those weird, electical sound effects. Those were achieved by touching a nickel to a guitar chord that was plugged into and amp and the sound board. The opening sounds were created on the bass. Always wished the bass was a bit more present in this song, but once again I think part of the problem here was the mastering.

Click here to see a picture of Ultimatum with Steve Rowe(Mortification) from their gig at Spotlights, Albuquerque, NM. Also, check out the 1997 Rowe Productions promophoto.

A remixed version of "Never" with newly recorded bass and beefier guitar tones appears on Dwell's "2000: A Second Coming" compilation

2009 REISSUE BONUS TRACKS
In 2009 Roxx Records saw fit to re-release "Puppet of Destruction". Of all the past Ultimatum CDs, this was the one that needed proper mastering the most. The bottom end was always missing from this album, mostly due to the original mastering. The limitations of the 90's digital studio we recorded at will always be present. We thought about re-recording the album, but instead opted just to have it remastered, keeping the integrity of the original recording and the line-up from this album. I hadn't actually sat down and listened to this CD in years. Some of these songs we still play live, but other than those, I hadn't heard many of these songs in nearly a decade. I had forgotten how much I enjoyed that album. The songs are actually quite good. "Charged/Power" is among one of my favorites. I sort of wish the bass guitar would have been a bit more present in the mix, but otherwise this is a killer speed metal song. The remastering does bring out the bass a bit more in this song, as well as the overall sound of the album. The CD also features three bonus tracks, including the previously released Testament tribute "Sins of Omission", the demo version of "Never" and a brand new recording of "Mortal Stomp".

Those lucky enough to get one of the first 100 pre-order copies received a 2-CD version with the "Fatal Delay" demo on disc two. To be quite frank, I'm not fond of this demo whatsoever, but it does represent a time in the history of Ultimatum. The demo also features the first two songs that Robert and I ever wrote together in "Plea for Holiness" and "Fatal Delay". "Plea for Holiness" never went past the demo stages, but "Fatal Delay" was recorded again for the "Symphonic Extremities" release. The demo section features an extended middle section that is a bit too long IMO, which is why we cut it down when we recorded it again the second time. The 2-CD version will also include a 4" x 4" insert of the artwork from Fatal Delay. That cover was designed in Photoshop in 1993.

The remaster features a 6-panel inserts with liner notes by Kmorg from Metal-Metropolis, Steve Rowe from Mortification and Bill Bafford of Roxx Productions. It's nice to know that something we recorded over a decade ago is fondly remembered by others. The insert also features a ton of photos from this Puppet-era of Ultimatum.

Click here to see a picture of Ultimatum with Steve Rowe (Mortification) from their gig at Spotlights, Albuquerque, NM. 1997.

Click to see Rowe Productions promo photo.

A remixed version of "Never" with newly recorded bass and beefier guitar tones appears on Dwell's "2000: A Second Coming" compilation.

Mechanics 2
Ultimatum - The Mechanics of Perilous Times
(Gutter/Massacre) 2001
Ultimatum - Mechanics of Perilous Times (Retroactive) 2007

1. "Temple of the Spirit" (3:20)
2. "Greed Regime, Inc." (7:27)
3. "Perilous Times" (4:40)
4. "Shroud of Science" (4:01)
5. "The Purging" (7:45)
6. "Crash Course" (5:33)
7. "Warlord's Sword" (3:54)
8. "Burn" (3:49)
9. "MutaMitlu" [instrumental] (5:18)
10. "Violence & Bloodshed" (3:20)

2007 Reissue bonus tracks
11. "Temple of the Spirit" [demo] (3:18)
13. "Heart of Metal" [demo] (4:29)
14. "Greed Regime, Inc." [live] (8:10)

I can't exactly be biased about an Ultimatum CD, but of the first three Ultimatum CDs, this is my favorite. The production is improved, but still heavy and raw. While we often get compared to Exodus and Metal Church and are labeled thrash metal, I think we have our own unique sound that blends together traditional heavy metal with some speed metal and thrash. I think the comparisons are because of the vocals more than anything else. Actually the vocals on this album are more varied than on the first two. They still retain the snake-like hiss of past albums but add elements of death metal and even some more melodic parts. My only complaint on this album is that I don't like the snare drum sound. I complained about it the entire time we were recording and mixing, but I never got my way with the engineer. Other than that, I was very proud of this CD. I think the guys tore it up, especially on the instrumental "MutaMitlu". The guitar solos and the bass solo are awesome IMO. ("MutalMitlu" is Ultimatum spelled backwards.) I love the way the Vengeance Rising cover came out as well. BURN SATAN BURN! It's a bit heavier and faster than the original.. Steve's guitar solo in this song shreds! "Temple of the Spirit" is one of my favorite songs lyrically. It so awesome that the Temple of Almighty God is now in each one of us, instead of in a temple in Isreal. This disc is a German import.

2007 REISSUE BONUS TRACKS
"Mechanics of Perilous Times" has been released three times now. It was initially a self-released CD in 2000 by the band. In 2001 the album was picked up by Gutter Records in Germany and released throughout Europe. In 2007 Retroactive Records re-mastered the CD and released it with three bonus tracks and an 8-page color booklet. The first bonus track was actually a rough mix of "Temple of the Spirit". The song is very similar to the version that made it onto the album, but does have some small differences. The most noticeable is that the guitar solo is completely different and is in a different part of the song as well. I personally always liked this version of the song, even though it was more or less, a mistake. Guitarist Steve Trujillo went into the studio and recorded the solo in the wrong part of the song. Since the song was very new, we hadn't completely worked out all the small details yet, and the guitar solo was one of those things. I asked the engineer for a copy of this version of the song before it was taped over, which it eventually was when Steve went back into the studio and recorded the solo you hear on the album version. We actually recorded this track to test out the studio to see what they could do. After it was recorded, we decided to record the album there and the basic drum, rhythm guitar tracks and vocals were left and used for the album version. The second demo was recorded in 2003 in a friend's home studio. It was basically recorded live and is very raw, compared the the version that was released on the "...'til the End!" EP. However, it was the first song we wrote and recorded with bassist Rob Whitlock, so we thought it would be cool to include. The last song was recorded in 2005 at the Up From the Ashes show in California and was one of the very last shows to feature Steve Trujillo on guitar with Ultimatum. Since writing this song, it had become our concert opener for nearly six years. Not until 2007 did we start using a different opening track for our shows ("One For All" from Into the Pit). The booklet includes comments on the bonus tracks by myself. The cover art is nearly identical to the original issue with slightly improved color.


Scott Waters, Summer 2004, Anaheim CA,
Rob Whitlock in the background


Rob Whitlock, Robert Gutierrez, Scott Waters
Summer 2005, Golden West, Albuquerque, NM


Augustine Ortiz, Rob Whitlock, Scott Waters
2006, Golden West, Albuquerque, NM


...til the End!
Ultimatum - ...til the End!
(Roxx) 2006

1. "Deathwish" (5:50)
2. "One For All" (5:25)
3. "Heart of Metal" (4:40)
4. "Blind Faith" (4:39)
BONUS TRACKS
5. "Sins of Omission" (4:45)
6. "Blink" [live] (3:12)

 

 

Cornerstone 2006
Scott Waters
Cornerstone Festival 2006, Bushnel, IL

It's been a long time since Ultimatum has released a new studio album. While we as a band had been busy over the years performing and writing new material, many things have gotten in the way of actually recording a new CD, including member changes, label changes, and personal issues within the band. Finally in 2004 we began recording a new demo to shop around to labels. A rough, raw version of "Heart of Metal" was recorded and saw release on an obscure compilation CD. We weren't really happy with that recording so the search began for a more professional studio to record a proper demo. Well, the four songs represented here were the result of that recording session. We sent the demo out to several labels and eventually received a few offers from some independent labels. In the meantime we began recording our full length CD. However, since that wouldn't be released for some time, we decided to release the demo cuts for our patient fans and friends, especially since we have been playing these songs live for years. "Heart of Metal" is still among my favorite songs to perform. It is a metal anthem to the highest degree and demands that the audience shout along to the chorus, which they usually do. The lyrics are a bit cheesy, but this was done on purpose. This song is just fun, and that's all it was meant to be. "One For All", "Deathwish" and "Blind Faith" are more serious songs, clearly expressing our faith. In my completely unbiased and totally objective opinion, these are some of the finest tracks that Ultimatum has released to date. The guitar work is stellar. Robert Gutierrez and Steve Trujillo both pulled out some of their finest lead work for these tracks. These recordings also mark the first recordings with bassist Rob Whitlock, whose signature style is heard throughout. Unfortunately this would be the last recorded work for Steve Trujillo with Ultimatum as he left the band shortly after it was released. All these tracks will most likely be on "Into the Pit" in '07, however the will most likely be re-recorded and feature new lead work by Robert and Augustine Ortiz. I am very proud of the bonus tracks. "Sins of Omission" is a Testament cover that we recorded in 2000 for a tribute CD for the now defunct Dwell Records. We took some liberties with the song, but I think the original feel of the song is still very much in tact. Steve performed all the leads on this song. I particularly like the way the vocals came out on this song. The last track was recorded at a club called the Chain Reaction in Anaheim, CA. It was recorded in 2004 and is a warts and all recording. There are no overdubs to fix the rubs. This is live and the way you would have heard it if you were there that hot August night.

Only 300 copies of "...'til the End!" were released. All 300 of them are numbered and hand signed by the band. Mine is 199/300.

Ultimatum - Into the Pit (Retroactive) 2007

1. "One For All" (5:24)
2. "Exonerate" (3:42)
3. "Deathwish" (5:51)
4. "Blood Covenant" (3:21)
5. "Heart of Metal" (4:40)
6. "Wrathchild" (2:53)
7. "Transgressor" (3:20)
8. "Blink" (2:43)
9. "Blind Faith" (4:20)
10. "Into the Pit" [instrumental] (3:08)
11. "Game Over" (5:18)

I am very proud of this album. It's been a long time coming and we went through a lot of changes in the years since "Mechanics of Perilous Times" was released, including the loss of original member Steve Trujillo, as well as longtime drummer Sean Griego. However, founding member and guitarist Robert Gutierrez really stepped things up on this one. His guitar playing is outstanding. His rhythm work is tight and his solos are certainly some of his best. I can't imagine any Ultimatum fan being disappointed with this one. However, I really hope that the stepped up production will draw in some new fans as well. The CD has eleven songs. We had actually written one or two more that didn't make the album. I am super psyched about the new version of "Blink". I love this song. We've been playing it live practically since we wrote it back in 1995 and I have always wanted to record it with Sean Griego's double bass assault. The version on "Symphonic" was nothing more than a demo and really didn't capture the energy and aggression of that song. The new version annihilates! Augustine Ortiz played the guitar solo on the song and it's just jaw dropping awesome. We made some minor changes to the song, but overall, stuck to the original composition. The four songs off the "...til the End!" EP also made the album. All four were basically re-recorded. "Blind Faith" went under the blade slightly. I like the newer version better. The solo section is much better in my opinion. "One For All" and "Deathwish" were completely re-recorded with our new drummer Alan Tuma. Sean had recorded on the EP cuts. However, the songs aren't really all that different. On the EP version of "One For All", Steve Trujillo and Robert traded off leads. On the "Into the Pit "version, Augustine recorded new and different guitar solos over Steve's, whereas Robert's leads are nearly identical. Other than some differences between Sean and Alan in style, "Deathwish" wasn't really messed with. We even kept Steve Trujillo's guitar solo in the later half of the song as we really liked it and felt it fit the song well. "Heart of Metal" is also nearly identical to the EP version, with a bit more bite in the guitars and better sounding drums. We recorded our version of Iron Maiden's "Wrathchild". While we stuck close to the original composition, we changed things slightly to make the song our own. You can really hear the difference as soon as the bass and drums start at the beginning of the song. I like the way it came out, especially the scream in the middle. It's a layered scream. I did one lower register scream then in the middle went for the helium high shriek. It came out very cool, and very different from what Paul DiAnno did. Probably my favorite songs on the album are "Exonerate" which is a full out thrash song, "Blood Covenant" and album closer "Game Over". "Game Over" is the first song since "Puppet of Destruction" that features Robert doing some lyric writing. He wrote the basis of the song then I went in and changed things around and came up with the vocal melodies and added the chorus. It's a great song to close the album with. I'm really happy with the vocals on this album. They are raw, throaty and thrashy. Each song has it's own unique sound and style. Being that the album was recorded over a long period of time, I think it gave me a chance to really work out some of the vocals and melodies. Whereas on "Heart of Metal" the vocals are a bit more melodic, on a song like "Exonerate", the vocals are very rough and thrashy. On that particular song I was inspired by Sadus. I also used some deeper, almost death metal-like growls here and there for emphasis on some songs. Just about all the vocals, screams, growls, grunts and groans are done by me without the use of any effects, other than the minor reverb or delay here and there.


Scott Waters & Robert Gutierrez, Sept. 2007 @ Cornerstone California

 

Ultimatum
Scott Waters & Robert Gutierrez, Sept. 2007 @ Cornerstone California


Lex Metalis
Ultimatum - Lex Metalis
(Retroactive Records) 2009

1. "Ton of Bricks" (3:15)
2. "Locked in Chains" (3:12)
3. "Sin After Sin" (2:58)
4. "Creeping Death" (6:14)
5. "Denim & Leather" (4:41)
6. "Gut Wrench" (3:41)
7. "Moto Psycho" (2:28)
8. "Metal Health" (5:06)
9. "Steeler" (4:09)
10. "Iron Fist" (3:05)
11. "Can't Get Out" (4:19)
12. "Wrathchild" (2:52)
13. "Powersurge" (4:53)
Ultimatum Lex Metalis promo
"Lex Metalis" promo poster
Scott 09
Scott Waters 2009

Some people see cover albums as a cop-out. For me, I think they are great fun. My favorite metal bands covering songs by other favorite bands has always appealed to me. So, I was excited about the opportunity to record one myself.

After releasing "Into the Pit" in 2007 we made a decision to release an EP of covers. Originally we had planned to record four or five songs and release an independent CD just for fun. However, as we began to work on these songs I ran the idea past our record company and they were immediately on board but wanted a full length album . Thus, "Lex Metalis" was born. (Actually, we had originally discussed calling the album "American Steel" or even "Music from our Elders") We took the idea to our friends and fans on our discussion board and asked for suggestions. With their suggestions and the suggestions of each of the four band members, we ended up with a list of nearly fifty songs from which to choose from. (It's also worth mentioning that one of our friends from the board came up with the name for this CD as well.) Obviously we didn't have the time or budget to record so many tunes, so we started working on the material, and narrowing down our choices. This was actually one of the hardest things about this recording. So many bands I would have loved to have paid tribute to were left off such as Raven, Anvil, Hirax, Deliverance, TT Quick and Saint.This was not my tribute CD, it was a tribute from the four members of Ultimatum. (I was really pushing for "Blood on the Ice" by Anvil, which would have payed tribute to Anvil and my favorite sport, hockey!) Several songs of my choosing did make the cut, including "Locked in Chains" from The Moshketeers, probably the most obscure choice on this CD. As well, "Sin After Sin" from Twisted Sister, "Powersurge" from Overkill and "Gut Wrench" from the mighty MortificationMetal Church's "Ton of Bricks" and Saxon's "Denim & Leather" were both suggestions by people on our forum that worked out rather well in my opinion.

Once we started practicing and working out the songs, we began to experiment with the songs. At first we just played the songs as they were originally written. However, we soon began experimenting with them trying to make the songs sound like Ultimatum songs. We didn't want this collection of songs to sound like some lame garage band. Rather we wanted this to sound like an Ultimatum CD. In the end, I think we accomplished that task. We didn't worry so much about making every note and chord perfect. Rather, we just recorded what sounded good to us. Just because a section of a song had a solo before, didn't mean we had to add one, and just because a section of the original song didn't have a guitar solo, didn't mean we couldn't add one. Likewise, we changed endings, chord patterns, melodies, tempos, etc. Whatever it took to make the song sound like something Ultimatum might have recorded. One of the hardest parts of recording these songs for me was steering away from singing them exactly like the original artists. I wanted to give the song that snarly, Ultimatum attitude. This was very difficult in some of the less thrashy songs such as "Denim & Leather" and "Steeler". However, with the help of our producer Ysidro Garcia, I think we achieved that sound even on those less thrashy songs.

"Sin After Sin" is one of my favorite tracks on this album. It's a simple song to begin with, but we added a speed metal element to the song. Dee Snider already has that snarly, New York attitude, so it wasn't such a stretch for me to add a similar snarl to the song, especially since I'm originally from that area of the U.S. as well. Being a big Megadeth fan, I was thrilled about the opportunity to record one of their songs. I must confess that I wasn't to thrilled with Robert's choice of "Moto Psycho". While I like the later era of Megadeth, I suppose I originally thought it would be cooler to pick a song off one of their 80's releases. However, Robert had some good ideas for what he wanted to do with this song and in the end I am quite happy with how this track came out. If you listen closely at the very end of the song you can hear me add in a bit of a tribute to earlier Megadeth as well. A few songs we didn't tinker with quite as much. Metallica's "Creeping Death", a song we've been performing live off and on for a couple years, just felt natural to us. We didn't change a whole lot about this classic song. "Gut Wrench" was changed quite a bit from the original. While we kept the spirit of the original song, Robert changed the groove riff of the chorus some and added some other elements to the song that I quite like, especially the opening and closing, dissonant guitar riffs. With this song I was able to experiment a bit with the vocals, layering the higher pitched, shrill vocals with some lower growls. None of the vocals on this album have much studio effect on them. The deep vocals are all me and have no pitch shifting added to them at all. In most cases the vocals are dry with no effect at all. In some cases delay or reverb was added for effect. For the most part, however, this is what Ulitmatum sounds like live. While these songs are covers, I really think we finally captured the raw, live Ultimatum sound on this recording. Perhaps one of my favorites songs is Motorhead's "Iron Fist", another song we have been know to break out at concerts once in a while. Rob's bass tone on this is absolutely stunning! He played this song with his classic Rickenbacher bass to give it that authentic Lemmy sound.

The cover art was done by myself this time around. The photo on the front cover is actually me and was shot by photographer Kristian Thompson. I really wanted that old school look brought to new life. While the cover is modern looking, it also has that classic 80's heavy metal/thrash look. The CD includes and 8 page booklet that also pays tributes to some of our music heros. Thanks to Rexorcist, for his help with the cover as well. 

For the most part the songs are fast, aggressive and heavy as a freight train coming at you full speed. The production is raw and heavy, but everything is heard clearly as well. I am quite happy with what we achieved on this album and hope others will enjoy it as well. Perhaps the biggest compliment came to me from Mortification bassist/vocalist Steve Rowe upon hearing "Gut Wrench":

"Wow! That sounds awesome! That is better than the Mort version! HaHa. Well done! Great vocals & guitars. Thank you for really giving it 100%. That is the best best Mortification tribute song ever. That is the way to do it, slaughter the original! HaHa. You guys rule. Glad also that you did a not so popular song & it wasn't from Scrolls! Praise God for that! That is Divine happiness. Blessings" Steve.

Heart of Metal Ultimatum - Heart of Metal-20 Years of Ultimatum (Roxx Records) 2012

1. Blood on a Thousand Hills (4:02)
2. Scattered (Body Parts) (3:58)
3. Hook Line & Sinker (5:50)
4. Rip ‘n’ Tear (4:02)
5. Heart Of Metal [remix] (4:40)
6. Locked In Chains [remix] (3:12)
7. Mortal Stomp (2008) [remix]  (5:32)
8. Blink (2007) [remix] (2:43)
9. One For All [remix] (5:24)
10. Deathwish (5:51)
11. Into The Pit [instrumental] (3:08)
12. Temple Of The Spirit (3:20)
13. Crash Course (5:33)
14. Never (4:03)
15. Puppet Of Destruction (4:19)
16. Gutterbox (5:02)
17. Darkest Void (3:59)
18. Symphonic Extremities (4:31)

Ultimatum was formed in 1992 by Robert Gutierrez after the demise of his former band Holy Sacrifice. "Heart of Metal-20 Years of Ultimatum" is a compilation of new songs, remixed songs and older material culled together to celebrate the band's 20th anniversary together. Tracks 5 - 18 were selected by fans who voted on the Roxx Productions web site. I'm fairly happy with the song choices, though I would have liked for "Violence & Bloodshed" to have made the cut. It would have if we could have squeezed on more track onto this CD. Tracks 5 - 9 have been completely remixed by Ysidro "Sid" Garcia, who has engineered and produced everything Ultimatum has recorded since the "Til the End" EP. The new mixes were done to give the album a better flow so that the new tracks would sound good with the old "Into the Pit " and "Lex Metalis" songs. We had hoped to completely re-record "Heart of Metal" for this release, since the album title is based on this song, however, time and finances didn't allow for that possibility. (We were originally only suppose to record only two or three new songs for this release, we opted to record four rather than re-record "Heart of Metal".)

Tracks 1-4 are new recordings exclusive to this CD. "Blood on a Thousand Hills" is a song we had been playing live as far back as 2009. . The song deals with the genocide that occurred in Rwanda in 1994. I read an account of some people who were taking refuge from the fighting inside a church when soldiers just began firing through the walls and windows killing everyone inside. The photos with the article showed this abandoned church that was completely dark except for the light beaming through the bullet holes in the walls. That image burned into my memory and inspired the lyrics to the song. What really struck me was the faith of the survivors. I couldn't even begin to imagine the terror those people went through and yet they never lost their faith in God. That's inspiring.

The music for "Scattered (Body Parts)" was written by our bassist Rob Whitlock. The song is a straight-forward thrasher with a slight punk edge to it. I think it's the first Ultimatum song to have a bass solo. I had written the lyrics for "Scattered" many years ago when I was singing for Once Dead. Back around 2005 or so I called Doug Thieme (Once Dead/Die Happy) and told him the song title "Body Parts" and read him the lyrics. He told me that he loved the lyrics and idea for the song and wanted to use them on the new CD we were preparing to record. Unfortunately I wasn't afforded the opportunity to record with Once Dead, so I kept the lyrics to use in Ultimatum. Once Dead did use the title "Body Parts" on their "Visions of Hell" CD, though their song has completely different lyrics written by Doug. However, to avoid confusion, I decided to change the name of my song to "Scattered (Body Parts)". Though the lyrics are written in a rather gory way, they are allegorical and deal with unity. Unity in not uniformity. Unity and diversity can co-exist. This is the first Ultimatum song to feature a bass solo.

"Rip 'n' Tear" is another fast paced song. The lyrics were inspired by my interactions with some religious people who feel that their personal convictions should be law.

"Hook Line & Sinker" is the more mid-paced song of the bunch. It was a song that we started writing back in 2010 and was originally a fast speed metal song. When we were practicing for this new CD in the beginning of 2012, Robert really felt the song needed some major changes. We ended up completely re-writting the music and made it into a mid-paced heavy metal number.  The song lyrics are written in such a way as to leave it open to a bit of interpretation. However, the song was inspired by some encounters I had with some people claiming to be Christians who deny the very core of the faith. Special thanks to my brother Todd Waters for screaming with us in the gang shouts.

The 12-page booklet highlights the last 20 years of the band with each spread detailing an era and line-up of Ultimatum. What I am most proud of in this booklet is the quotes from friends like Ron Rinehard (Dark Angel), Ted Kirkpatrick (Tourniquet), Glenn Rogers (Hirax/Heretic), Steve Rowe (Mortification), Bill Bafford of Roxx Productions and several others. Ultimatum may not have sold millions of albums in our twenty years of existence, but we made many friends along the way and played the music we enjoyed regardless of the trends and what others thought we should be doing. Twenty years is a long time for any band, especially one that has existed simply on the love of the music they are playing and the message they believe in. Special thanks to artist Dave Besanson for the insane character on the front cover of the CD.

There is a also a special, limited edition Ultimatum box set that was released to coincide with the 20th anniversary. The Heart of Metal Roxx Boxx was officially released on October 30th. The box was limited to 100 hand numbered copies. Boxes 1 - 15 contain four CDs and a DVD, while the remaining 85 contain 3 CDs and the DVD. All the boxes also contained a Robert Gutierrez signature guitar pick, a woven patch and sticker of the cover art, and four autographed photos.

Ultimatum - Heart of Metal-20 Years of Ultimatum Roxx Boxx

Ultimatum splitult split Ultimatum/Join the Dead split promo CD (Roxx) 2012

Ultimatum
1. Heart Of Metal [remix] (4:40)
2. Blood on a Thousand Hills (4:02)
3. Scattered (Body Parts) (3:58)
4. Hook Line & Sinker (5:50)
5. Rip ‘n’ Tear (4:02)
Join the Dead
6. Mask Of Fear (5:55)
7. Out Of Breath (3:30)
8. Self Inflicted Pain (6:02)
9. Idol Faith (6:07)
Michael Phillips (Join the Dead) & Scott Waters (Ultimatum)
10. What A Joke (6:13)

A split promotional CD for Ultimatum and Join the Dead for Roxx Records. This was a very limited edition run and was sent to radio and some reviewers only. Join the Dead are a heavy metal band out of California consisting of Michael Phillips (Deliverance/Fasedown), Paul White (Decadence) and Tim Kronyak (Deliverance). The four songs included here are all on the band's debut EP. The five Ultimatum songs are all from the "Heart of Metal" CD.

"What A Joke" is exclusive to this promotional CD. This cover of the Deliverance classic was originally recorded for the Deliverance tribute CD, but here is a completely new version with new guitar work and remixed. I was never completely happy with the version on the "D" tribute as the guitar solo/hook from the original song was absent. Mike wanted a heavy Machine Head feel for that tribute and felt the song didn't need the additional solo work. However, I asked Mike if he could add the additional guitar parts to the song and remix it for use as a promotional giveaway. He agreed and after a couple rounds of mixes back and forth between the two of us, the song was given away as an MP3 download to those who pre-ordered either the Ultimatum or Join the Dead CD. It is included here as a bonus track.

Ultimatum
Back to Index