Review by Greg on April 13, 2023.
Heralded by yet another of Paolo Girardi's unmistakably bleak artworks, Inferno XXXIII is the latest LP by Italian ensemble Ulvedharr. Diving into it with no prior knowledge of the band, the listener is greeted by ~35 minutes of bombastic, hateful deathrash à la Legion Of The Damned and similar acts, before a tranquil, smooth outro rounds the whole thing off. Sounds like a pretty intense experience, doesn't it?
Well, it is, indeed. With a formula based on frontal aggression more than anything, Ulvedharr sure come across as angry enough to be convincing. Nothing for the ages, but songs like 'A Full Reload Of Fear', 'Revenge Loop' and my personal favourite 'Their Game' are distillates of pure, vitriolic rage, emphasized by the explosive production. Axemen Jack Draven and Magnus Frost offer a more than solid performance in the riffing department, and the frequent tempo changes no doubt escape the impression of a band playing it safe. Inferno XXXIII sure shows a trick or two to remain enjoyable enough despite not nearly reinventing the wheel, as a multifaceted track such as 'Wasteland', or the somewhat hard 'n' heavy leanings of 'Master Liar' and 'Eternal Attack', clearly underline. That's something I'd like to say for Ark's vocals as well, but unfortunately it's the total opposite. His coarse, hardcore-tinged yelling is a constant that permeates the album and knows no deviation nor (apparently) any necessity to catch breath, virtually never shutting up, except when the criminally scarce guitar solos show up. Advance single 'Dagon' suffers a bit from it, but I don't think directionless tracks like 'The Edge' and 'A New God' could have fared better with another man at the mic.
At its core, what Inferno XXXIII offers is simply hard to dislike, but at the same time it's a style that requires remarkable chops to be nailed successfully and to stand out from the pack. Ulvedharr are somewhat caught in the middle in this regard, bringing you a generous dose of riffs and testosterone that will suffice for a while, but lacking a bit in the memorability/lasting impression department, especially for a rather seasoned band which is now at their 5th major effort. In any case, if this is their physical limit, there's a lot worse around, and it's surely worth some spins from time to time.
Rating: 7.3 out of 10701