After the clinical tech death assault that was Of Fracture and Failure, New Zealand’s Ulcerate has made a few changes to their sound and thankfully replaced vocalist Ben Reed (bassist Paul Keland now performs vocals) and the end result is yet another simply killer Willowtip release and one of the most striking death metal albums of 2009 (and beyond).
Whereas Of Fracture and Failure was a more surgical dervish that hinted at some twisted Deathspell Omega throes, Everything is Fire fully embraces the atonal slicing of Deathspell Omega and adds the murkier, backwards discordance of Immolation making a death metal album that’s an oppressively claustrophobic listen and seethes with blistering dissonance and tangible malevolence at every turn.
From the opening lurch of “Drown Within” it’s obvious that Everything is Fire is not a nice, clean tidy tech death metal album. And when the song does eventually explode it’s a vortex of undulating, squealing riffs and unpredictable percussive patterns that’s hard to wrap your head around in one listen or even many casual listens. The lengthy tracks that comprise Everything is Fire need to be absorbed completely as the sonic voracity of every note literally seeps into every vein and pore of your being, deeper with each listen. Tracks like the monstrous “Withered and Obsolete”, “Caecus” with its mind fucking ambient refrains (cementing the Deathspell Omega influence), and utterly chaotic climax, scrawling shitstorm of “Tyranny” and the compeltely schizophrenic, psychotic structures of the title track all deliver those rare, indescribable moments that make you challenge your expectations of what death metal is and should be in the future.
The rougher, muddier production suits the style shift perfectly as do Keland’s more suitable, gruffer vocals, which are smartly mixed to be in the background somewhat. And thusly Everything is Fire is that rare Altars of Madness, Effigy of the Forgotten, type of death metal album that raises the bar and sets the standard for the genre for the next few years, though not everyone will immediately feel that way.[Visit the band's website]