Ulcerate – Vermis

UlcA colleague (and I am paraphrasing here) commented to me that Gorguts’ latest will likely remain ‘the’ atmospheric/technical death metal album of 2013, and that there are similarities between it and the subject of this review. While those statements may have some truth to them, the admittedly excellent Colored Sands will hardly be the only worthy entry into that (relatively) sparsely populated subgenre this year. Allow me to explain …

Two years ago, I picked up Ulcerate’s previous release The Destroyers of All, and the tormented New Zealanders have remained on my radar since, and with good reason. Where other technical DM bands opt for a ‘wet’ production, replete with low frequencies that give good separation along with a meaty sound, Ulcerate take an entirely different route; their dry, mid-rangey sense-assault comes at you as one headlong force of despair. When I hear Gorguts, I am taken to a humid, rotten flesh cavalcade of uncomfortably warm, squalid fear. Ulcerate’s sound, on the other hand, feels like an enveloping, cold desert wind on a moonless night, where one is attempting to purge the forlorn knowledge of an absolute loneliness from the mind. Do both offer a detuned mire of chaos? Yes. But the seeds of each band are of completely disparate origins. Gorguts have a long path harkening back to the earliest death metal, and that DNA comes to bear in the form of godlike chugs, guitar solos frothing with madness and skill, and an odd-time signature wickedness that recalls a Satanic jazz of sorts. All of which are still most certainly rooted in Metal, and effectively achieve the quality of nightmare. Alternatively, Ulcerate are obsessed with the sorrow-sonics of late ’90s Neurosis and Isis, with all riffs capturing the aforementioned bands’ most tense moments, but with absolutely none of either bands’ times of release. On Vermis, unlike other atmospheric/technical DM records, there are no solos, no acoustic moments, and no airy additives to the production. Indeed, there is nothing to grab onto at all but a weary hopelessness, and in that way, Ulcerate’s latest can only be described as a beast of its own making, while an obvious continuation of the path set forth on their last album of desolate death metal. Powered by an innovative drummer expertly giving motion to the most dissonant moments of a post-metal mixtape, Ulcerate have their own voice, and you should listen. -Jim

Relapse Records

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~ by cliftonium on August 21, 2013.

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