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Ultima Grace - Ultima Grace Award winner

Ultima Grace
Ultima Grace
by Kevin Lewis at 24 October 2022, 6:15 PM

ULTIMA GRACE is a brand new Japanese Symphonic Power Metal band formed by Yuhki, keyboardist extraordinaire of ALHAMBRA. She brings together an accomplished band of musicians, then tops it off with Anette Olzon (THE DARK ELEMENT, ex-NIGHTWISH). Their debut, self-titled album was released on March 16, 2022, via King Records.

The album opens with “A Legend Begins,” a track that is likely meant to introduce us to this new band. It starts slow with strings and vocals, bringing in drums and keys slowly, building them up until a male choir begins some chants that usher in the guitars and bass. The song continues to build until the final fadeout. The overall execution and effect of the song is to act as a foreshadowing of the good things to come.

The next song, “Getting on With Life,” is a more straight-forward rocker. One thing ULTIMA GRACE likes to do is have the guitars and keyboards plat similar lead phrases, creating a harmony where many bands choose to use different passages for each instrument. The harmonized lead work is quite good, especially with some really powerful riff work going on underneath. The bass doubles as the rhythm guitar in many places, helping to fill out the overall guitar-based sound. The drums are truly standout, Power Metal style skin bashing.

Powers Of the North and East” opens with a killer symphonic passage, only to take a heavy turn into the main body of the song. The speed of this track is quite nice, racing through five minutes at top speed, leaving you breathless by the time the song concludes. The guitar work is excellent, and the bass fill is a welcome addition to the composition. The keys are spectacular, as always, complimenting the guitars beautifully.

Two further expansions of the ULTIMA GRACE sound are “Beguile the Night” and “Ripples.” “Beguile The Night” has a distinct Asian sound layered in, taking the music in yet another direction, showing the native influence of four of the five members of the band. “Ripples” is the power ballad that is structured much like many from the past. It slowly builds to a massive crescendo before tapering off with a solemn tone, leaving you almost heartbroken it ended like that.

The most stunning song on the album is “The Lost.” Over eleven minutes of Progressive Power Metal are encapsulated here in spectacular fashion. The keyboards are epic, spinning a cinematic tale, guiding the song through a few really nice changes in tempo and tone. The Progressive elements add an incredible depth to this track. The whole thing is a wild ride through everything this band can do.

Having chosen Anette Olzon as their vocalist, ULTIMA GRACE made a conscious effort to add additional tonality to their music. You add an iconic voice to a Japanese supergroup. And make no mistake, this is a supergroup. Just listening to the skill of the instrumentalists will tell you this. This is no regular debut album, it’s a tour de force as an initial release. This is five world class musicians coming together and creating something absolutely amazing. I can only hope they ULTIMA GRACE us with more excellent music in the near future!

Songwriting:  9
Musicianship:  10
Memorability:  9
Production:  9

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. A Legend Begins
2. Getting on With Life
3. Cry for The Rain
4. Powers of North and East
5. Beguile by Night
6. Ripples
7. Rise
8. Night Hunt
9. Double Caution
10. The Lost
11. Requiem
Lineup:
Anette Olzon – Vocals
Atsushi Hasegawa – Bass
Hideki Harasawa – Drums
Toshihiro Kajihara – Guitar
Yuhki – Keyboards
Record Label: Frontiers Music
     


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Edited 01 February 2023
 

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