Rings of Saturn – Ultu Ulla (Nuclear Blast)Tuesday, 18th July 2017
By the time one reaches a fourth album, most bands have locked in what they are going to do. They are either going to put out more of the same with subsequent offerings, or dip their toes and show they have some more surprises up their sleeves. With Rings of Saturn, the answer seemed obvious, but after a few listens to their Nuclear Blast debut, Ultu Ulla, color this scribe a bit pleasantly surprised.
That being said, there’s still plenty of the usual ‘aliencore’ antics that fans will appreciate (and everyone else will loathe). Tracks like “Inadequate,” “Prognosis Confirmed,” and “Immemorial Essence” contain frantic ideas that seem haphazardly put together in a way that they never really feel like a song. There may be some tech-y parts that will impress on the first few attempts, but nothing sticks and it’s more or less a wall of spastic riffing and monotonous breakdowns. The worst offender is that of “Parallel Shift,” which is chock-full of so many tedious and yawn-inducing chugs that it feels almost three times it’s length.
On the bright side though, are the sparks of neo-classical and melodeath riffing infusions in some tracks. “Service of this Sentience” hints at it in a few places and provides a more positive opening than one might expect. The instrumental “Unhallowed” is an upbeat and strangely effective piece, as is the longer (and more metallic) “The Macrocosm,” complete with some progressive and more tasteful noodling. “Harvest” contains some almost carnival-esque vibes to it that makes it standout among the lot. And the strongest of the bunch, “The Relic,” shines with it’s more restrained use of tech rhythms and melodies. They still keep their identity intact, and hints towards a much more promising future if they keep songwriting like this in mind.
While overall, Ultu Ulla doesn’t hold up as strong as some other deathcore efforts, there’s more interesting material offered this time around than some may expect. If the band continues to trend further towards the progressive with less emphasis on throwaway breakdowns, they may gain traction with the extreme community.