Rock at its very best!
After an agonising wait for my new UltraDrive CD to arrive, the postman finally delivered, and there it was: Believe! As you all know, I like to start by considering an album’s cover; after all, the band created it for a reason, trying to convey a certain message.
The cover for Believe is simply stylish. All black, with two silver-white elements. The first of these is the band’s logo, UltraDrive. The logo brings to mind the emblem of a racing car (and the ‘drive’ association in UltraDrive serves to reinforce the notion) and every attribute that goes with it: fast, slick, well-oiled, highly tuned. The album title, on the other hand, is presented in a font that evokes a sci-fi feeling; just ever so slightly out-of-this-world, unusual, eternal and big. These, then, were my expectations for the album: music that would be hard and fast, accomplished, edgy and grand. And my, does UltraDrive deliver!
The opening track, Crush, is a fantastic hard-rock piece with anthem potential. A powerful opening riff blows your mind, and the deep, dark vocals accompanied by a series of power-chords set the mood perfectly. Crush is definitely one of my favourite tracks on this album; and possibly a candidate for my all-time greats! The title track, Believe, opens with a tantalising guitar intro followed by rolling riffs and a rousing beat. It has instant sing-along value and I adore the powerful contrast between the muted mike and the clear, loud chorus. The final call of “I still believe” sounds almost outer-worldly and haunts you long after the track is finished. A little quieter throughout, Shame brings you a fabulous drum intro, quiet but pacey, followed by a guitar theme that lodges right in your mind and refuses to leave! Shame also features amazing two-part harmonies, and a great air-guitar moment for those of us (like me) who love to pretend. Crazy, another one of my favourite songs, is more mellow in sound, almost ballad-like, and very lyrical.
And the list of praise goes on. I always listen out for great lyrics with goose-bump potential, and I am not disappointed here. Consider From the Outside: “Come on in from the outside…your life is waiting for you/just make your move and turn the page…” or Drive: “If you want to stay alive you’d better/drive!/only the hungry will survive…” I love that about hard-rock in general, and these songs in particular; the positive message, the affirmative outlook: get up and go, it’s all up to you. On the other hand, there is Them Bones which has an entirely different feeling, a dark feeling evoking anger and, perhaps despair. The drawn-out vocals and shouted, repeated “I” make the hair on the nape of my neck stand up.
So to me, Believe is a strong, accomplished, hard-hitting album with great, dark harmonies, powerful vocals and strong feelings. I haven’t (yet) had the pleasure of seeing UltraDrive live on stage, but I am confident that they would fill, and thrill, a stadium! This is fantastic arena rock and I highly recommend getting a copy if you like to rock out.