Ulcerate – Vermis (Relapse Records)Friday, 27th September 2013
Auckland, New Zealand’s Ulcerate are a technical death metal band of a different sort. Many times, bands of this persuasion tend to create metal exuding little more than their mastery of complex rhythms and guitar theory training. Akin to the label “a comic’s comic,” much of this style of death metal garners most of its value strictly in the technical aspects of the music and leaves little in the way of atmosphere or overt emotion. It can come off as flat and mechanical. Ulcerate differentiate themselves by combining a modern take on technical death metal with a foreboding despair that is very human.
After a pretty excellent outing in 2011’s The Destroyers of All, Ulcerate release their fourth studio album in Vermis. The result is 54 minutes of absolutely heavy music, both tangibly and perceptually. There are elements of post-metal in this album, but to be sure, at only a cursory glance. This is to say that Ulcerate employ atmospheric dynamics in the music, utilizing elements of spacey-ness that can be found in bands like Isis, but to compare these two bands is wrong as there is little else in common. No, I think Ulcerate would scare away many fans of Isis, no offense to them intended. This album has a certain accessibility to it as it’s quite musical (in a very darkly melodic way), but is overpowered by its brutal vehemence.
In Vermis, Ulcerate have made a pretty homogeneous mountain of sound. It is one of those albums that leaves you flat-out beat by the end, due to its ferocity. The music is like a smothering blanket of malevolent hopelessness. If the feeling of standing in the middle of a hurricane, while in purgatory, had a sound, I think it might sound like this album. This thing is downright oppressive.