Ultima Radio - Dusk City

12 songs
54:59 minutes
***** ****
Panta R&E


Austria might not be the first country you think of when it comes to hard-hitting alternative rock. So yes, there was Sans Secours, but that happened already more than twenty years ago. Ultima Radio are a band from Graz and Vienna, and their music actually is strongly influenced by the guitar driven alternative rock of the Nineties, the way it used to be produced by the late Guido Lucas. Except that Ultima Radio is happening now. After a first EP in 2015, followed by their debut album A Thousand Shapes two years later, they once again took two years to come up with the sophomore album. Dusk City is basically a ten-song album that is three quarters of an hour long, plus two interludes and a few hidden extras, which bring it to nearly sixty minutes. Usually I donít like that kind of padding, but in this case, they actually help to enhance the atmosphere.

The opener Your Skin shows the band from its straightforward rocking side. It really shows that the band has two full-time guitarists, who are not only content to deliver heavy riffs, but also yield some nice noisy atonal parts from their instruments, which take the song to a more suspenseful level. Up next is Limber, my personal highlight on the album. The vocals range from the insistingly hypnotic to the intensely emotional, and the guitars once again spice their parts with some weird noise feedback parts. 7 of 8 is a straightforward stoner rock song that works so well because of its concise nature that makes sure that nothing more than necessary will happen. Siberian, previously released as a single, is another great track that gives us a lot of dynamic tension and a chorus that will give you goosebumps.

A one-and-a-half-minute interlude concludes the first part with subway train sounds accompanied a spooky instrumental part. And on we go with Monotyper, a mid-tempo rock with fantastic guitar riffs that create an pleasantly oppressive mood. Icarus, another pre-release single, shows the band from its catchier side, but in a very successful way, thanks to the incredible vocals. Golden Lands is somewhat dragging its pace, trying possibly to add a certain Southern gothic touch, and Again And Again also doesnít get moving, making these two more sedate tracks my least favourite moment on the album. But then we get another interlude, before Reshape, a powerful guitar heavy rocker, and the slightly psychedelic title track conclude the album on a high note.

I started this review by labelling Ultima Radio as a band that has been heavily influenced by the Nineties, and one could even go further by claiming they sound like the illegitimate love child between the darkness of Tool and the more colourful psychedelia of The Mars Volta. Dusk City works best during its first part where the band is acting in a next to flawless way, before they lose momentum towards the end of the second part, but then make good again with the shorter final part. In the end, this is still an excellent album that might just have worked even a little better at a slightly more concise length.

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