Ulcerate
Stare Into Death And Be Still

As I peruse through albums I might consider year end candidates I see a lot of black metal; …And Oceans, Abduction, Kryptamok, Aara, Afsky, Eisenkult, Glaciation, Marrasmieli  to name a few. But there is very little truly special  death metal.Sure there’s some good stuff like the always reliable Abysmal DawnThe Project Hate‘s Purgatory or Earth Rot‘s black/death mash up Black Tides of Obscurity, but actual, real, pure death metal?  Very little has truly made me reel with awe……Dramatic pause….

Until now.

New Zealand’s Ulcerate are no stranger to my or other year end lists through out the course of their 6 album career. From 2007s pure, clinical tech debut  Of Fracture and Failure , to the band’s more atonal, dissonant shift in arguable peaks Everything is Fire, and Destroyers of All, to Vermis and the band’s last effort, 2016s Shrines of Paralysis,  the band has constantly been at the very apex of death metal and that’s likely to stay the same with this absolutely suffocating 7th effort.

The twisty, murky discordance that’s still part Immolation and part Deathspell Omega, has been sharpened and honed into a lethal combination of churning nausea and controlled, indescribable supine, clinical otherworldly harmonies that somehow seem melodic within the devastation. Look no further than opener “The Lifeless Advance”, a truly breathtaking album opener that left me muttering under my breath.

The following 7 tracks have a high standard to follow , but “Exhale the Ash” certainly tries with a more fervent pace and delivery and the title track then slows things down a bit for an eight minute descend into calamitous murkiness, that’s so fucking in control of its own chaos its frightening.

As with past releases, there’s is a bit of a lumbering post metal (namely Neurosis) ambiance and temper to the album’s slower moments (i.e “There is No Horizon”, “Visceral Ends”, “Dissolved Orders”) , but it’s rendered with such an majestic heaving heft, it blends in perfectly with the crumbling devastation.

Ulcerate are so fucking locked in on this album it’s unfair. Take mid album standout, “Inversion” , with a mountainous opening riff so sickeningly perfect,  Ross Dolan, Robert Vigna, AND Steve Von Til would nod in respect. Or the fucking sexy, menacing little sway in “Drawn into the Void”. All of it with a perfect mix /master that’s heaving but precise, rendering the riffs with ample heft and clarity.

I was needing a death metal album to get me excited about the genre again in 2020, and Stare Into Death And be Still is that album. It’s such a monstrous slab of undulating perfection, it makes me whisper to myself how good it is when its playing. No doubt you will do the same.

 

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
June 16th, 2020

Comments

  1. Commented by: Nick K

    Man, i found this one boring compared to their other releases for some reason. Maybe too drony? I think also that the dissonant sound has become so competitive in the way tech death is between bands as far as pushing limits go. Great write up though Erik.


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