Released: 2013, Relapse Records
Reviewer: Metal-Rules.com UK Team
It can’t be easy being a metal band in New Zealand. Sure, the scenery may be about as beautiful and mind-blowingly inspiring as it gets, but in terms of being a metal hot-spot, Ulcerate really do come from the arse end of the world. Nevertheless, this is no particular reason to praise them, but the music they create is a reason to praise them.
Since releasing their debut in 2007, Ulcerate have achieved much respect and their sophomore
Everything Is Fire established them as one of the best ambassadors for New Zealand there is. Now, the three piece have returned for their fourth record, Vermis, translating from Latin to English simply as “worm”.
The dirgy first track of Odium sets the feel for the whole record; deep and emotional waves of desolation wash on the listener with an unavoidable crushing affect. The forest doesn’t really show its true dark colours until the title track wretches out a whirlwind of dissonance and chaotic blast beats. Great technical mastery is shown on this track, particularly with guitar work of Michael Hoggard and nocturnal pulse of the drummer Jamie Saint Merat.
The track clearly shows the bands side of ferocity, and definitely gives them their brutality badge on their death metal club-scouts jumper, but after very nearly six minutes of this assault I’ve frankly had enough. Fortunately the more black-metal tinged clutching revulsion does offer this and another seven minutes of progressive death metal goes by without getting caught on any branches of cliché or stereotypes.
However, by track 6 or 7 the initial impact of the atmosphere created has worn off, and even in the best of listening environments, things begin to turn a little stale and tedious. The closing Await Recission shows an influence of third wave black metal bands, with the tortured howls of the devil coming through more than before. Of course the musicianship is far more proficient, but it appears to me that the song writing is not.
Through the whole of this record great riffs are not repeated, which is frustrating as the overall quality song is diluted by more mediocre parts, which could be replaced easily with repetitions of far superior six string ostinatos, which would not only offer a better and more enriching listening experience, but a better listening experience. Don’t think this record isn’t a good effort, it certainly is, but it is a struggle at times and probably even best absorbed in two parts to keep one interested and in the mood for such a textured and multi-dimensional piece of work.
Review by Jarod Lawley