ALBUM REVIEW: Vatican – ULTRA
Photo Credit: Eric Richter
2022 has been a year full of ups in the music industry, with many bands returning from hiatus, stacked festival line-ups and a constant supply of music being released that satisfies the ears of anyone who presses play. Clearly wanting in on a piece of the action, Vatican decided to drop their new album ULTRA. Formerly known as Coastlines, their complete overhaul was made in 2015 and with a new name came a whole plethora of new music, this being their second full-length album under Vatican.
Vatican clearly mean business: they have signed with UNFD and enlisted the services of a new vocalist, Mike Sugars, to help them reach new levels. Upon listening to ULTRA we believe it’s something they have achieved. Sugars stated in an interview last year that recording the album “was fun, but it also felt like a fever dream because we were there for a month and we slept there and stayed there the whole time.” This sort of dedication has really showed itself in each of the songs in ULTRA, with every single one of them as hard-hitting and as full of emotion as the last.
ULTRA opens with Slipstream Annihilation, and is everything a metalcore song needs to be. Full to the brim with the low chugs of guitars, paired with the echoing pounding of the kick drums and crashing of cymbals gives the album the powerful opening it needs and really sets the mood. The speed and overall tone give off a similar vibe to metallic hardcore band Nails, who are most known for their fast-paced, commanding songs which we can only say is a huge compliment. A lot of albums seem to be filled with ups and downs, but ULTRA just seems to go from strength to strength, with I Am Above and the lead single Reverence following suit. All three songs are as heavy as you could imagine and really keep to the roots of metalcore, with the latter using clean vocals for the first time in the album. With these clean vocals, it adds an extra layer to what is a well worked album and gives a Deftones-esque sound, which seems to be becoming more and more popular in modern metalcore and can only bode well for Vatican.
Vatican are not afraid to go outside the box and this is seen in Where Heavens Collide. The track is full of electronic loops and even more clean vocals. If any song was going to get into mainstream listening it would be this one. A well put together song with a catchy chorus, this would go hard in any alternative club main room and it does hold its own; however ULTRA is stronger when it’s aiming straight for the jugular. The jugular is exactly where ULTRA heads back with [ULTRAGOLD] – if a violent track is what you came for then this is the answer you need. Anyone listening to this would have a hard time stopping themselves from two-stepping and throwing their limbs about like there is no tomorrow, us included. This continues to be the theme with later song Uncreated Waste. The deep growls are switched for high pitched snarls and the pace is upped once again, with the song not even lasting two minutes. fast forward and it’s over before you know it and you are left wondering what hit you, headed straight into the aptly named track Damage. Play this in a room full of avid metalcore listeners and damage is what will be caused.
After many run throughs of ULTRA, we can only seem to spot one issue and that is the length of the album. Metalcore records always seem to be short and sweet, but with fourteen songs the album could easily fall victim to many tracks being skipped and not given the credit they deserve. Whether this will be the case is uncertain, but there are definitely a couple of hidden gems stuck in the middle of a long tracklist that shouldn’t go unmissed, such as the speaker shattering Mirror Dream and the melodic post-hardcore number By Your Love.
With only their second full album as Vatican, the five-piece are in a promising position and could easily be one of the biggest names in the metalcore scene soon. They are clearly comfortable with their sound and are trying to venture out into different sounds to find something of their own. Although it may not have landed as well as intended this go round, it is clearly going to be a case of trial and error until it’s right and once it is, we can guarantee this group will go far.
Standout Tracks: Mirror Dream, Uncreated Waste, Slipstream Annihilation, Reverence
For Fans Of: Stray From The Path, Kublai Khan TX, Counterparts, Static Dress
Written by: Kensey Bailey