An eye for an eye
And a tooth for a tooth
Destroyer is rising from the dead
Vice is rampant
And virtue is dead
Heading into Armageddon

-- United - Sniper

UNITED - Bloody But Unbowed
Japan 1990

1. Sniper 2. Welcome To Amazing World 3. The Plague 4. Power Rage 5. Don't Trust! 6. (It's So) Hard To Breathe 7. Take A Bite Of Crime 8. Suck Your Bone 9. Unavoidable Riot

Another more or less convincing entry in the genre from Japan, United's Bloody But Unbowed is a slab of middle-ground speed/thrash metal served in quite a typical form. After the first couple of tracks you still cannot help having doubts about the direction where this album is heading for, but a few songs of more notable intensity make it worth the time, even if only for the curiosity value. One must admit that The Plague is a neat composition of bouncy rhythms although the song is about the only slightly more remarkable piece on the whole release. Some occasional goofy bits aside, Bloody But Unbowed follows the usual traits accurately but without any exceptional demonstrations of energy or imagination - with this kind of standard tricks you can get only so far.

UNITED - Beast Dominates '92
Japan 1992

1. S.R.S. 2. Do You Wanna Die? 3. Holy Dive Screamer 4. Combat! 5. Ultra Q 6. Yesterday's Hero

Beast Dominates '92 gave another sample of United's run-of-the-mill thrash metal, the most exceptional (and stupid) entry on this album surely being the Bay City Rollers cover song. Maybe the overall sound is a bit more unified than on the band's full-length debut, but that's really the nicest thing you can say about it. The instrumental Ultra Q is not too bad as there are no banal vocals dumbing down the music, the rest is probably mainly worth interest for its non-musical collector value. In fact, this release is practically the opposite of spectacular - you could call it pretty dull as a whole and not go terribly wrong there. If nothing else, Beast Dominates '92 is a fair document of United's condition at the time of this release, but it wouldn't have hurt to produce something better.

URTO - Upside Down
Italy 2009

1. The Dilemma Remains 2. Remote Control Seizure 3. Free Will State Of Health 4. Mind-forged Manacles 5. The Second Coming 6. The World Upside Down 7. Requiem For Brainwork

It can be frustrating to listen to albums recorded by bands who appear fairly ambitious and technically capable, only to find out in the end that strong riffs are in short supply. Fortunately Urto's Upside Down is better than that - this release sounds good already from a pure technical point of view, but it also features some quite competent songwriting in the form of interesting and variable song structures. The production quality is very sharp, and especially the guitar sound and semi-original vocals deserve a nod of approval. You could call this music even progressive at times, but it does not become outright tedious despite several lengthy and less straightforward songs. One reason for the positive aftertaste must be the band's performance that is simply quite determined and convincing. While there are no real surprises here, it is obvious that Urto surely know their way around the genre better than many others do.

USURPER - Divine Spiritual And Intellectual Development
Netherlands 1990

1. Egoistic Mind 2. Enthralment Fate 3. Diseased Reality 4. The Room 5. Insane Decisions 6. Behind Mandela's Mask 7. Infest The Convent 8. Ozon Tragedy 9. Orphanage Children

Without a doubt Usurper's Divine Spiritual And Intellectual Development must be among the most obscure thrash metal releases from Netherlands ever, although the album does not really differ too significantly from the typical sound of the time in either good or bad. With gruff, sufficiently powerful vocals and little varied but rather effective guitar riffs, this is almost everything you could expect although there's a slight contrast between the rougher points of the output and occasionally quite classy guitar lines. Despite being composed of some basic blocks that are repeated throughout the album, Usurper's music gets its point across surprisingly well, though. While most of these riffs do not exactly stick to your head, it's the coherent feel of this album that makes it more memorable than the plain sum of individual tracks would do. Even though it may be hard to come by these days, Usurper's sole release is not to be ignored too hastily.