Ulysses Siren - Above the Ashes
Scrap Metal Records
(Bay Area) Thrash Metal
7 songs (30:01)
Release year: 2005
Scrap Metal Records
Reviewed by Mike

Ulysses Siren was formed in 1983 in San Francisco. The band was very young, with founding members Steve Pickering and Manny Lopez fresh out of high school. Guitarist Jon Torres would later play in both Angel Witch and Laaz Rockit. Ulysses Siren would release 2 demos in the 80's, the foundation for this release, Above the Ashes. In 1985, "Terrorist Attack" was released as a demo to much acclamation in the underground scene. Two years later came another demo, and the band would embark on a tour of the club circuit. Ulysses Siren played with bands such as Nuclear Assault, Death Angel, Death, Black Death, Fang, and Potential Threat during that time. In 2002, the band would reform, despite ongoing personal problems within the band. Relentless Records originally remastered and compiled the two aforementioned demos into a single release, Above the Ashes in 2003. Scrap Metal Records is again making this lost gem of bay area thrash metal available again in 2005.

The timing of this release couldn't be better. Due to a general lack of this style of metal being released these days, Above the Ashes has been a welcome addition to my regular rotation. Exodus recently released the excellent Tempo of the Damned, and album that stays true to their bay area thrash roots, but they are one of the very few torchbearers left in this genre. I wish there were more than seven tracks (one of those is an instrumental) on this album, but there isn't a dull moment to be found. The promo sheet that came along with this cd states that the band had a "fuck you" attitude back in the day when they reached underground popularity with their two demo releases. Based on what I've heard, it's hard to argue with that. The guitar work is fast and furious. In particular, the riffing is simply amazing. Fast, yet very intricate riffs provide a fast and furious backbone for the songs. There is a steady diet of energetic shred work throughout each song as well. Drummer Steve Heuser is tight behind the kit, maintaining a relentless pace from start to finish. Drumming fast is one thing, but Heuser keeps things interesting and diverse in addition to his raw speed. Vocalist Manuel Lopez has a clean, yet powerful voice that is a perfect fit for the energetic music the band plays. When called for, he is able to belt out a shriek to give the song a well times umph. If I had to compare his style to another band(s), I'd go with a cross between Steve Grimmett's performance on Onslaught's In Search of Sanity album, and James Rivera's work with Helstar (now with Seven Witches). However, Lopez does have his intense moments where his vocals gain a growly edge to them. The guy can certainly cover all the bases when it comes to vocal styles. He does a good job at using his voice the right way at the right time on this album. All these ingredients come together to create songs that keep you interested from the first note to the last, with the energy level always at the maximum level.

I haven't been able to find out as to whether or not Ulysses Siren is still together. Unfortunately, the band's website appears to be gone at this time. The last bit of news I found was that the band was playing live shows in 2003 (after reuniting in 2002), despite some serious inner conflicts with band members. That's never a good sign for long tem stability, so I fear the band may have disbanded again. While they were together again, live reviews stated that the band had fully retained its "uncompromisingly thrash" sound. Again, the time for such a band is certainly now, simply due to the lack of activity in this genre. I hope to hear more from Ulysses Siren in the future, as they have shown with this album that they can hang with the big boys of the bay area thrash scene.

Killing Songs :
Terrorist Attack, The Reich, Lake of Fire, Above the Ashes, The Resurrection, No Trace of Shame
Mike quoted 80 / 100
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There are 4 replies to this review. Last one on Sat Apr 30, 2005 3:48 pm
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