Ulcerate | ‘The Destroyers Of All’
It’s a formidable reputation that New Zealand’s Ulcerate have built up over recent years. Three albums of precise, yet textured Metal that treads the line between Gorguts’ techincal proficency and the slow-burn weight of Immolation have now been released, each bolstering the group’s standing.
This third album comes courtesy of the ever-reliable Willowtip and not without some great expectations attached to it.
The band has stated in interviews that they weren’t interested in changing radically from their last, the excellent ‘Everything is Fire’, and this is evident from even a single listen. Their attack still revolves around expansive, spidery guitar playing and a visceral style of drumming that is as unrelenting as it is precise.
Crucically, there’s a warm, tonal aspect to the riffing that lifts it beyond the simple battering that many other Death Metal bands dish out, and never once does it sounds clinical. Atmosphere leaks from this record, with the plunging chords and a sustained use of dissonance making a vibe that is both enveloping and uncomfortable.
The vocals, though still brutal and effective, take on an almost observing role, reinforcing the waves of rythmic attack the rain down on the listener rather than lead them.
It seems that with this record, Ulcerate have decided to delve more deeply into the cold, disonant soundscape that underpins their music. Guitar progressions mix with the drumming and produce an almost rythmic trance.
A truly excellent production job has been done to give equal prominance to the flowing spaces between the twisting riffs, and a more panoramic element becomes evident on subsuquent listens. A good example of all the elements combining in style and slowly breaking into a mass movement of sound is closing section of ‘Cold Within’, with a faint melodic undertone slowly propelling the whole track to a brilliant, flourishing end.
In such respects, this isn’t a record that can be lashed on and off at will. The great stand-alone songs that define the classic Death Metal bands aren’t to be found here. Instead, there is a single-minded insistence on the growth of atmosphere and feel.
What really makes it such an accomplishment is that such a vision has been realised without once devolving into ‘brutality for brutality’s sake’, yet still producing a record that festers with aggression and energy.
Comparisons with their fellow Antipodeans Portal don’t do Ulcerate’s more clinical aspects justice, but it’s not hard to imagine these bands contently co-habiting the same space in the current pantheon. Even a comparison with a Godspeed You! Black Emperor’s bleakest moments is hard to shake off as a quiter moments of ‘Omens’ drift by.
Like plumbing the depths of the last Esoteric album , trying to take in the totality of ‘The Destroyers of All’ isn’t an easy task, but it remains worthwhile and ultimately rewarding process. The bottom line is that if powerful, atmospheric music that is as bleak as it is skillfully sculpted is your thing, this one really does belong on your want-list.
Grace and bleakness in equal, great amounts.
4.4 / 5 – Lorcan Archer ::: 30/01/11