Ulthar
Anthronomicon/Helionomicon

20 Buck Spin hits another out-of-the-park homerun for 2023 with albums…yes, plural from California’s blackened death metal band Ulthar.  My first experience with Ulthar was seeing them on their debut album tour, Cosmovore, as they toured with Misery Index.  I became an Ulthar fan, picking up their cd and long sleeve shirt at the show.

2020 saw the release of their second album, Providence, and that was a strong follow-up to the debut, Cosmovore, although I preferred the debut a tad more.  Ulthar has been a roll and now we get two albums, released simultaneously by them.

First there is Anthronomicon, at 40 minutes it contains 8 songs and is in the format of a traditional album.  Then there is Helionomicon, containing two lonnnng as songs, both 20 minutes in length.  “Helionomicon” is the first track and “Anthronomicon” is the second track.  Both of these albums have different artwork, done by the same artist, as they’re tied together.  Both are exceptionally drawn with all the alien monstrosities across both covers destroying shit and eating a few thousand Subway foot longs in the process of doing so.

So the first of these two, which would be album #3 is Anthronomicon and the song opener “Cephalophore” wastes no time at all by blasting out the starting gates in the disjointed Ulthar, off-kilter, stylized blast beats.  This band keeps things interesting, that’s for sure.  Varying vocal tones from the bassist and guitarist keeps us all in check and gut punches galore are being hurled with the screams, growls and punishing drums.  The guitar tone is great, with melodies being thrown in, alongside harmonics as the riffing is dicing us all up into small cantaloupe pieces.  Juicy opener!

“Flesh Propulsion” is just a plain awesome as-hell song title.  Needing to propel through space and time, but using bodies as fuel..c’mon that’s beyond brootal.  This song has a lot of tempo shifts.  Speedy in the beginning, then mid-paced then getting into a double pounding primitive-styled blast, think Slaughter (Canada),, their Strappado album. The song migrates to a slower crawl which then gets into a more traditional 90’s era death metal gallop.  Excellent guitar riffing, listen to the 2.40 section to catch what the F I am talking about.  The variety of vocal tones on this song are quite killer and I do notice a little Blood Incantation on this song.  The rhythm section at the 4.40 part will give you that Blood Incantation vibe.  It’s brutal, challenging and most of all wants you to go back to it time and time again to absorb the nuances.

“Cultus Quadrivium” ends the album at close to 7 minutes, wastes no time as it starts fast and the best part of the song, imo, is the slower moments, like at the 2.39 mid-paced section.  Then the song gets slower.  The challenging rhythmic patterns simply put – kicks ass.  Great ending to album #3.

Album #4, takes the listener on a similar but different journey.  All of Ulthar’s signature moments are intact, just stretched out longerrrrr.  “Helionomicon” opens and at 20.5 minutes and is non-stop chaos in the beginning with the assorted blasts, gurgles, blackened shrieks and around  a quarter in a monstrous slow down with vomitrocious guttural growls – this section is my favorite moment across both albums.  This section is excellent.  We get some atmospherics towards the end, then the music returns then the atmospherics end the song.

“Anthronomicon” is up next and is 40 seconds shorter than the album opener.  Old School blasts start this flesh propulsion-fueled brutality.  The song gets fast, then slows and the slow parts, in the beginning, will destroy eardrums with the pinch harmonics..  Some atmospherics and slow parts around the five-and-a-half-minute section and then the song has some slower, doom-laden moments a bit after the 13-minute mark..  The song ends with atmospherics and noises.  Nice way to end album #4.

Both of these Ulthar albums are heavy, organic sounding, and unique and both pair nicely together with a glass of red wine, blueberry sharp cheddar and some figs and crackers.

Ulthar took a big chance with releasing 2 new albums at once, one of them containing 2 epic long AF songs.  But you know they all work.  There are so many tempo shifts, sounds, and weird shit going on I say way to go Ulthar for being so creative.  Get both of these albums and support this unique and brutal band.

 

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Frank Rini
April 5th, 2023

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