The Destroyers of All

New Zealand’s Ulcerate set the bar pretty high for themselves with 2009’s Everything is Fire, a monstrous slab of churning, atonal death metal that ended up on many 2009 year end lists, mine included. How would they respond?

The album title says it all.

Even though the formula is the same as on Everything is Fire–that’s to say Immolation styled death metal channeled through Deathspell Omega’s swirling discordance and bursts of haunting atmospherics–the resultant sound is still as devastating and draining and again, should see many 2011 year end lists.

As with the previous album as well as the likes of the Portal, Impetuous Ritual ,Vaesaleth and recent Mitochondrion (who may actually have stolen some of Ulcerate’s thunder), Ulcerate’s sound isn’t about simple structure or memorable riffs, but rather a sonic descent into madness and a calamitous, murky noise that initially comes across as structureless chaos.

However, after multiple listens (shit, this came out in January and I’m still trying to fathom it out), the album’s seething, twisting, pit of snakes sound starts to gradually make sense. But it’s not easy and neither is it rewarding (in the traditional sense), because like laying eyes on the contents of the Ark, once the albums depths are revealed to you, your face might melt off.

With their own production, mix and master, Ulcerate have sculpted a sound of their own that will appear foreign to casual death metal fans wanting triggers and a clinical pro tools sounds, and there’s a place for that sound in death metal. Just not here. The Destroyers of All lurches, undulates and froths with a malevolent intellect and age old saurian insidiousness. The seven lengthy songs intermingle dense, indescribable, otherworldly anti-melodies and a cacophony of caustic, muddy riffs and percussion.

At times it sounds completely unfathomable — for example the last two minutes of “Cold Becoming” is as claustrophobic and dense two minutes of music you’re liable to hear in 2011; its simply massive, like the song is suddenly amplified and grows like a living, pulsing thing. The same can be said for the middle section of the crippling 10+ minute title track, which also has a mesmerizing, foreboding closing that hints at ominous warnings of future destruction. There’s a menacing depth here you can actually feel crawling under your skin, not just hear. Throw in sudden and at times, darkly hypnotic injections, segues and intros that are moments of unnerving atmospherics (“Beneath”, “The Hollow Idols”, “Omens”) — the Deathspell Omega comparison becomes more than just a passing fancy.

There are certain bands and albums that simply are impossible to convey on paper or in words. Ulcerate and The Destroyers of All is the kind of album you need to make words up to describe. Words like imbludgeonation, decripplifying, ulciferous and albumoftheyearconderiticated.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
April 5th, 2011


  1. Commented by: Morchiant

    This is one of the best death metal album’s in years. Brutal, intelligent and unique. Definitely on my 2011 year’s best list, along with Mitochondrion.

  2. Commented by: Clauricaune

    Yes, this kills.

  3. Commented by: Cynicgods

    Hahahaha your made-up words bit was excellent. “Yes, this kills.” X 1,000.

  4. Commented by: faust

    Great review Erik and spot-fuckin-on, what an album this is!!

  5. Commented by: Blackwater Park

    This is a great album, and one that requires a lot of listens to fully appreciate.

  6. Commented by: legumbrera

    Excellent album, and as you said, one of the best of 2011

  7. Commented by: terp

    Loved Everything Is Fire. The samples I’ve heard are similar enough to make me wonder if this one’s different enough to justify a purchase. This or the new Obscura?

  8. Commented by: skelmo

    ^this is definitely better than Obscura.

  9. Commented by: faust

    Apples and oranges my friend, apples and oranges…

  10. Commented by: jerry

    neither this or obscura have riffs, but they take totally different avenues to get there.

  11. Commented by: Storm King

    Ulcerate might be the band that takes the crown for me Meshuggah once had. Meshuggah was a band that, try as I might, I simply could not get, but then one day it all clicked together and I got it. Listening to this CD, I get the definite feeling that once it all locks together for me-it was the last two minutes of “Cold Becoming” where I sensed that possibility-I’m going to love the hell out of them. Right now I’m just absorbing their music and waiting for the click to hit me.

  12. Commented by: faust

    I remember going numb when I heard the last two minutes of that track. Fucking brilliant.

  13. Commented by: krustster

    Yeeeeooo mayne. I remember on my very first listen I was already declaring this to be in the top 10 without a doubt. It’s so incredibly amazing. It’s very much like the death metal equivalent to Blut Aus Nord.

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