Ulcerate – Shrines of Paralysis (Relapse)

Monday, 10th October 2016
Rating: 8.5/10

In recent years, Ulcerate has had their stock shifting way up. Seen as one of the strongest of the dissonant death metal bunch, Vermis saw them getting some appropriate attention after a string of impressive releases (most notably Everything is Fire). So what’s left to explore for one of metal’s most atmospheric and densely-packed champions?

Turns out, when you continue to going in the direction that Ulcerate has over the past few albums, there’s not much sonic-space left to explore. It doesn’t lessen the impact of Shrines of Paralysis, but those familiar with Vermis or The Destroyers of All should be familiar with what the band has achieved. Ulcerate deal in lengthy, linear songs that swirl and wrap themselves around the listener – the more shocking piece to all this is how they can dabble in emotions that aren’t as snarling as one might expect. There’s a level of bleakness and sorrow while blasting drums, zig-zagging riffs, and oppressive growls do their magic. The filthy, grimy sounds of the beginning of “There Are No Saviours” exemplifies this perfectly. Oozing atmosphere and mystery as things build up for the first two-minutes, it’s never a comfortable feeling that Ulcerate guides the listener into. As the music then accelerates, it disorients and dizzies the listener into a stupor, bringing them into the moment and leaving them there. Few bands can achieve such a state from their audience, and it’s obviously Ulcerate’s strong suit.

Ulcerate isn’t a band that you listen to for riffs or technical moments. Of course, they are there if you are willing to look. But Ulcerate’s main appeal is how they can take those usually inhuman aspects and cultivate them into a mood of simultaneous shock and awe. Claustrophobic material that still maintains a bizarre wondrousness to it – you can be flattened by a wall of riffs and growls one moment and then drawn into an uneasy atmosphere the next. It all manifests to be an experience that is more than the sum of its parts, and Shrines of Paralysis is guaranteed to please all those looking for death metal with plenty of density and depth.

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