Aaahhh...what a breath of fresh air! This is one of those CD's that just gives you the goosebumps when you first hear it. This disc is addicting to say the least. Just one listen through will have you singing for days...literally. I listened to it the other day on a Wednesday. Then the next day (Thursday) I listened to nothing but black metal. On Friday, I woke up in the morning with a USM song in my head. Needless to say, Friday was a USM day.
What gives USM the credibility that makes me hype them so much? Well, when the 3 band members all come from the amazing Balance of Power, you know you will hear nothing but quality. Bassist Tony Ritchie (ex-BOP vocalist and current bassist) handles bass and vocals here. And he is backed up by Pete Southern on guitars and Lionel Hicks on drums. Just like BOP, this band is tighter than you grandma's girdle.
Really, I can't see anyone who likes BOP, not liking USM. They are different, but they sound similar as well. The music is melodic hard rock/metal with HUGE, hooky choruses, but with USM the music has more of a bite to it. While BOP is all polished and perfect, USM has more of an attitude with slightly heavier guitars. Speaking of guitars, Pete Southern just shreds all throughout this album. Guitars solos are easily found everywhere and I'm loving it! Tony Ritchie's vocals soar throughout the disc. He is easily one of my favorite vocalists already. It's gotta be against some law to have two top-notch vocalists in the same band (BOP - Lance King & Tony Ritchie).
Lyrically, even though Tony writes for BOP too, most of the songs here seem a little less "spiritual". Actually, they don't seem spiritual at all. Tony mostly just writes about life and experiences. Nothing super positive, but there is no filth if you're worried. If you prefer your music to be all ministry, then you should stay clear. This is entertainment through and through...just clean entertainment. USM is basically like BOP in that there are some Christian members in the band, but not all. They don't label themselves as a Christian band and the lyrics do not suggest such. However, the lyrics are insightful and good.
USM is on Nightmare Records here in the states and on Massacre records in Europe. I have the US version and unfortunately the lyrics are only printed for one song. But the vocals are easily discernable so this is not a big deal.
Best songs for me would be "Beneath the Low", "Silver Step Child", "Terrorphobiac", and "That Paranoia Thing", but every song is amazing! All I know, is this is one of my favorite bands already and I can't wait to hear disc #2! (Review by Matt)