Monday, August 26, 2013

Ulcerate: Vermis (2013)


The last time I actually saw any return on my Amazon Associates links, at the beginning of 2011, I bought Ulcerate’s The Destroyers of All and about three other albums. It ended up being the grower of the year for me. I initially gave it only a 4 out of 5, but noted my suspicion that it would be a grower. By the end of that year, I saw fit to place it at number 4 on my year-end list. So, you can imagine, I was excited to hear their new material.

Vermis continues in the Kiwi trio’s tradition of brutal death metal drumming with an apocalyptic combination of guitar techniques that features some death metal riffs and a whole lot of Deathspell Omega-like dissonance. Too much unbridled chaos can, surprisingly, be a detriment. As before, Ulcerate give you just enough structure to let you know which way is down, then make sure your feet are never pointing that direction.

If anything, they’ve improved. There is a stronger sense of pacing and dynamic tempos. The doomy “Weight of Emptiness,” the occasional atmospheric/instrumental parts, even the schizophrenic combination of slow guitars and fast drums (see “The Imperious Weak”), these things are spaced perfectly throughout the album. They give it an ebb and flow and provide just enough breathing room to keep you alive, but only for sadistic purposes.

Picking this apart bit by bit would be a pointless exercise for anyone but the scholar or the aspiring harbinger of the Apocalypse. What is important is that it evokes the end even better than its predecessor. It’s a damn good thing these guys are on Relapse now, because they deserve the wider exposure.

Ulcerate is now the only band who can be said to rival Portal. I guess that’s what living your whole life upside-down will do to a person.

The Verdict: 5 out of 5 stars

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