Review Summary: Even nu-metal has its place.
And with that summary statement, I present to you a band that completely hopped on the industrial nu-metal train at the last possible minute. Releasing an album that was appropriately titled after it’s cover art, Progress
was ironically the last of the fuel that kept the nu-metal train going. Ultraspank had so much going for them at this time (even with the worst band name imaginable………well maybe Hell Yeah takes that award), teetering on what looked like some commercial success with a signing to Epic records two years prior. But like all major record labels who gamble with bands careers being relevant to the times, Epic just simply saw nu-metal becoming yesterdays trend. A lack of promotion was cited as Progress’
downfall on the charts, and inevitably, the bands demise months after its release. Ultraspank were on the brink of something big (think of where Disturbed are now) and Progress
, as the album title ironically signals once again, would have pushed them into the charts if it had been discovered by a larger audience.
Ultraspank formed in the late nineties, changing their band name from ‘Spank’ to Ultraspank’; a suggestion by Rob Zombie (as if that name were any better). After signing with Epic records, Ultraspank released their s/t in 1998, constructing an album full of chunky guitar hooks, vocally up-lifting melodies, and hints of industrial noise. Joining a short lived industrial nu-metal scene in Los Angeles that included the likes of Static-X, Spineshank, and 20 Dead Flower Children, Ultraspank stood head and shoulders above these bands in the song writing department, rather then just stringing together the same three chords and looped noise bits. Even though their s/t hinted at some of these nu-metal trends, Progress
found Ultraspank turning into a band that was shedding its roots, but at the same time, retaining some of the trends of their scene in a tasteful way. Ultraspank began to write songs instead of jarring exercises in simplicity and repetition. This isn’t to say that Progress
isn’t anything like their s/t, rather, it is maturity in song writing and the overall energy that their s/t only hinted at.
Right off the bat, the nu-metal/ industrial tinged ‘Push’ sets the band into overdrive, using their signature chunky power chords, soaring vocal melodies and instantly proving that the band had learned some new chops over the past two years. Eerie guitar lines emerge in and out of a huge build in ‘Crumble’, exploding and sending an eruption of shrapnel filled power chords with an equally intimidating growl to back it up. The song ‘Jackass’ may be Ultraspank’ heaviest song to date with its ascending and quickly descending Drop-D power chords, groovy bass line verses, and an equally excellent guitar line that would have the nu-metal masses moshing like there is no tomorrow. ‘Thanks’, with its tough as nails chugging (no breakdowns) and strange rhythm changeups with a pissed off sarcastic undertone (all ‘Thanks’ to the worst lyrics on the entire of the album) is another really heavy song on the album for those of you who need their metal, more METAL. The two main highlights on this album are saved for the last two tracks. I have to say at this point that ‘Left’ is the best song Disturbed never wrote. Featuring some of the best nu-metal chord progressions, the song will make you want to sway your head back and forth and take notice at the weird plucked verse and ever enticing vocal delivery of Pete Murray. ‘Where’ is the cliché acoustic track that so many nu-metal bands end their albums on and miserably fail at for the most part. Fortunately, ‘Where’ does the acoustic part right, taking a back seat to the vocals while creating a nice vibe in the background. Pete Murray’s vocals sound genuinely sincere in their delivery on this track, making this a song that will get stuck in your head for days.
Ultraspank may not be the heaviest nu-metal band, nor will they be the best (they are up there though, trust me!). On Progress
, Ultraspank had so much potential going for them and it makes me feel bad that they will never get the recognition that they deserved. Their song writing is top notch, catchy and would have sent the band on to bigger and better things if they weren’t yet another band eaten up by the music industry. As of right now, Pete Murray and Neil Godfrey (guitarist) are in a band called Lo-Pro, once again struggling within the music industry. Still, one can’t complain that Ultraspank’ short-lived career ended on such a high note, creating one of the best albums in the entire nu-metal genre. Progress
was ironically a step in the right direction for the band in song writing and Pete Murray’s soaring melodies. Just a damn shame we are left with the mediocre bands from that time period.