New Zealand’s death metal masters Ulcerate have been on a constant evolution. Since their prosperous formation and through years of effort, they have set a firm foundation. Their gradual expansion from technicality to a form of complex death metal is reflected on each studio album. On their latest craft ‘Stare Into Death And Be Still‘ Ulcerate manifests new methodical ways of blending atmospherics and harmony into its musical architecture. Their sonic ability to channel other styles is evident. If you dismantle the musical fragments, you will notice the relentless brutality and melodies are assembled by a formidable array of riffs.
It didn’t take me long to sink into the meticulous balance and harmony of the opening track ‘The Lifeless Advance’. For every chugging riff is proverbial, while the tectonic drum blows of Jamie Saint Merat are laid down with brilliance. Ulcerate is best known for its brutality and cacophonous, sonic experimentation, attaching clusters of dissonance into the musical patterns. Yet on the latest outing the New Zealander trio proves that they are adepts at channeling different elements. And if ‘Shrines of Paralysis’ was a magmatic stream set underneath the tectonic plates, then the newest album is one gigantic brutal slab of atmospheric and technical death metal, paired with intricate melodies.
Once again the lineup brings together expert musicians such as Paul Kelland (bass, vocals), Jamie Saint Merat (drums and percussion) and Michael Hoggard (guitars). While the opening track demonstrated the typical style of the band, the following track ‘Exhale the Ash’ shows the musical traits of the band. The sonic architecture of diversity and the musical intelligence of extending from technical mechanism to atmospheric consonance is brought about by sheer mastery. And while this track is a paradigm of their visceral creativity, Ulcerate navigates through this prolonged album and assembles many elements together. The magnificent percussion including the double kicks and the grinding mechanism is always at a high pace.
The massive force of the riffs is robustly operated by technical prowess. ‘Stare Into Death And Be Still’ is built on raw compounds. But this time Ulcerate has instilled beautiful harmonization between the melodies and dynamics. This witty ability to strip down the disharmonic riffs has become their trademark. The rhythmic layering provides such hooks that it will stun you. The melodies have been poured into the song textures to create depth. Ulcerate takes a remarkable and effective approach on the new album, although there are plenty of slow moments that will induce you to contemplate through the song arrangements. All of these gloomy sounds, created by the guitar melodies, build multiple layers. The bass guitar pulsates with sonic vibrations, as for the growls, they sound monstrous and deep.
‘There is No Horizon‘ begins slowly as it shows how the band has taken more of a monochromatic modification style. This perfect mixture of harmonies is arranged in textures to achieve a densely atmospheric reverberation. Often the drums erupt with rage causing havoc with the effective blast beats. The eight tracks are drawn into seven to eight minutes long spans, taking you into dimensions of technicality. This fine scale of musicianship and voluminous brutality eases to attain sonic tranquility. ‘Inversion’, for example, extends to hollow soundscapes. Then everything seems to burst again by giving the blast beats the force to demolish the beautiful segments that the guitars have created.
Ulcerate puts a lot of emphasis on the melodies with the focused guitars that elevate each track to perfection. It brings order to harmony in such a unique way in their refined craft. This is what they have presented you with: intricate rhythms of technical death metal quality. Like with the previous tracks, the guitar work on ‘Visceral Ends’ is fashioned in the technical scale of their atmospheric invention. This is one of the slowest tracks the band has ever written. From all the tracks on the album which are each equal in brilliance, the final entry, ‘Dissolved Orders‘ is one magnificent song unleashed with atmospheric instrumentation.
The elegant composition of the track is processed by hypnotic riffs and bone-chilling polyphony. As soon as the drums pick up the pace, the tempo shifts to monolithic riffs, resulting in an aggressive yet contemplative sensation. Where the disharmonious patterns are emphasized on ferocity, ‘Stare Into Death And Be Still’ is a magnificent album that will resonate into my ears for many years. This is Ulcerate‘s definition of technical death metal!
Release Date: April 24th, 2020
Label: Debemur Morti Productions
- The Lifeless Advance
- Exhale the Ash
- Stare into Death and Be Still
- There Is No Horizon
- Visceral Ends
- Drawn into the Next Void
- Dissolved Orders