Ulthar
Providence

Well isn’t this a nice surprise. Just a mere year and a half since I reviewed Ulthar‘s debut album, Cosmovore, and the band already fires back with their sophomore release Providence. The album takes everything impressive and done right from the debut and continues to expand upon its formula and deliver, in aces, a formidable follow-up.

While the band hasn’t really altered their sound from the seething black-death blister of Cosmovore, this visceral power trio has, most definitely, tightened things up a bit and produced a meatier, slightly more bludgeoning affair of extremity than their debut. Though I wouldn’t go as far as to say the band has streamlined their approach with Providence, they have focused more on a pinpoint accuracy of lethality as opposed to the somewhat loose and overtly sloppier, for lack of a better word, attack found on the debut.

Opening up and setting the pace of Providence is the two minute rager that is “Churn”, a  straight forward blaster of tremolo picked intensity backed by some truly cavernous vocals with a tad of black metal raspy ferocity thrown in for a good measure of freshness and appeal. The track is quick and to the point, setting up the album’s longer and more atmospheric, though nonetheless dangerous, material in a perfect balance. Every track is a raging force, with guitar work that, nearly always, contains intriguing and engaging movement within its passages and a drum performance that matches the guitar intensity perfectly, helping to propel the songs forward and keep them vivid and captivating. From the black metal rumble of “Undying Spear”, to the deathly pummel of “Through Downward Dynasties”, to the blackened, blistering bliss of the kaleidoscopic guitar licks  of the album’s title track, or the three -way collision of prime Goatwhore, December Wolves, and Jens Ryden fronted Naglfar influences in “Furnace Hibernation”, you are gonna be foaming at the mouth to hit the replay button when this thing is finished.

Hell, that’s not even mentioning the monstrous wall of deathly fortitude à la Blood Incantation or Tomb Mold, along with the swampy angular riff brillance of mid-period Morbid Angel, displayed in the happenings of “Cudgel”, “Narcisiss Drowning” , and album closer, “Humanoid Knot”. It blows me way that Ulthar can create and achieve such infectious tracks, full of vigor and aplomb, with such an indirect and atypical type of catchiness. Devoid of any actual hooks, the album is marvelously intriguing and addictive, coming off more successful when consumed as a whole rather than a piece by piece of individual tracks. Everything just latches on and seeps into your being in a most wonderful and brutal bashing, striking a chord immediately, as well as constantly and consistently being able to open up and offer more with each and every listen.

Like the soundtrack to being chased by soul swallowing deadites through a forest of tree raping evil death, Providence is quite an overtaking experience. The band mangages to retain every ounce of awesomeness and credibility that was achieved and established with Cosmovore, while simultaneously, upping the proverbial ante on what and where their sound was going next. Hats off to Ulthar, envisioning and creating freshness like Providence is no easy feat here in 2020. In fact, screw the sentiment of hats off; instead lets all take a knee in respective reverance to the members of Ulthar for not only giving us a fantastic album, but one of a few shinning bright spots amongst quite a forgettable dreary year.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Kristofor Allred
August 13th, 2020

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