Ültra Raptör

OK, hands raised, who here predicted that the 2021 metal album of the year would come from a speed/power metal band called Ültra Raptör? Anyone?


Anyone?… No one?… Well I’ve got just one thing to say to all you doubters out there! THIS… is not the 2021 metal album of the year. You’re right. But it’s sure-as-shit a hell of a good time!

This is entry number 3 in what’s becoming my running dino-inspired metal series (I feel like it needs a catchy name… “Teeth of the Rex?” “Raptor Reviews?” I’ll keep working on it). Laugh and sneer all you want at the sheer ridiculousness of it all, but when I see an album cover featuring a dinosaur with some kind of laser cannon strapped to its head, I know I’m in for a friggin’ blast. And the best part? I know I’m getting into something I probably don’t have to think too hard about or take too seriously. This is certainly true of Quebec City’s Ültra Raptör and their new album, Tyrants.

Speaking of album covers, HOLY COW. A lot to unpack here. We’ve got the aforementioned laser T-Rex, perched atop a pyramid/altar whereupon stand four naked and soon-to-be sacrificed women (being offered to the T-Rex? I guess?).  In the background, we’ve got what appears to be a group of space travelers watching as a dang rocket ship blasts off into a lightning storm –  and in the foreground, two groups of ALSO very naked, primitive-looking women appear to be engaging in some kind of skirmish? I think? I have absolutely no idea how all these things relate to or interact with one another, but I am here for it. Somebody make this a movie.

It’s all a very appropriate introduction to what we’re getting musically from the band. In many ways, Ültra Raptör strike me as a sort of hybrid love child between the traditional Heavy/Power metal fun of Blazon Rite, and blitzkrieg speed metal attack of Vulture. I mention Blazon Rite especially because of singer Phil T. Lung’s extremely enthusiastic, if not exactly, uh, polished vocal approach, which is highly reminiscent of BR singer Johnny Halladay’s work. I don’t think anyone is going to accuse him of being the next Rob Halford, but god damn if he isn’t giving it a full effort. The dedication makes for an endearing performance that forces you to thrash along with glee by sheer force.

This is an album made better by its total lack of pretentiousness. Throw shame out the door and blast a track like “Cyborg-Rex,” with its liberal use of gang vocal-laden choruses, the falsetto-accented verses over honest-to-goodness great riffs, and a friggin’ SWEET little solo, and tell me you’re not having a good dang time. I assume “An Offering to the Tyrant” is the soundtrack to the sugar-and-Robitussin-fueled fever dream of an album cover, which, of COURSE you want the soundtrack to that madness in your life. Stop denying it. You’re fooling no one. Jokes aside, Tyrants is full of PLENTY of great, memorable riffs that 100% will get your head banging. Full-throttle thrashers “Nightslasher” and “The Quest for Relics” will get your heart rate up without having to take a single step – though if you’re like me you’ll be self-circle-pitting around your living room. The latter track even boasts a killer bass solo which, in almost any circumstance, is enough to grab your attention and get you pumped the hell up. Don’t know why, it’s just science.

The band is capable of reigning in the chaos a bit to help change up the pacing as well. “Gale Runner,” while hardly a ballad, it more of a chugger with an earworm chorus that is going to get stuck in your head if you give it a chance. Again, it puts Phil T. Lung’s ultra-passionate, no-holds-barred vocal stylings fully on display, and it’s an absolute riot. Then there’s “Winds of Vengeance,” a song you could actually call “mid-paced,” that really calls for my man Phil here to provide his most nuanced and measured performance of the record… Which he does! Not the most refined thing you’ll ever hear, but again, he just draws you in with that all-out approach you can’t help but be sorta swooned by. The track features another really nice solo and some sweet little guitar harmonies that are super catchy.

Listen, I may have joked about this not being a record of the year candidate, but don’t for a second let that fool you into believing there’s any lacking of talent here. The guitars are honestly great, and the rhythm section of Dick Van Heuss and Tony Bronco are more than able to keep up and provide a solid-as-steel backbone. And while Phil Lung’s vocals are a bit on the raw side, they’re hardly offensive, and his outright exuberance is as captivating as it is absolutely appropriate for the product we have here. Make no mistake, you’ll be hard pressed to recall an album from this year more fun than Tyrants. Grab one of Unibroue’s metal-as-fuck beers if you’re fortunate enough to have it available to you, press play on Tyrants, and have yourself a genuinely good, kickass time with these Quebecois hooligans!

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Steve K
December 10th, 2021


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