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Ulcerate
Vermis
October 2013
Released: 2013, Relapse Records
Rating: 3.0/5
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
Track Listing

1. "Odium"
2. "Vermis"
3. "Clutching Revulsion"
4. "Weight of Emptiness"
5. "Confronting Entropy"
6. "Fall to Opprobrium"
7. "The Imperious Weak"
8. "Cessation"
9. "Await Rescission"

Lineup

Paul Kelland − vocals, bass guitar
Michael Hoggard – guitars
Jamie Saint Merat − drums

Other reviews

» The Destroyers of All
by Demonator

» The Destroyers Of All
by Metal-Rules.com UK Team

» Vermis
by Metal-Rules.com UK Team

» Vermis
by Peter Atkinson


Next review: » Ulcerate - Vermis
Previous review: » Tyr - Valkyrja

Ulcerate
Vermis
October 2013
Released: 2013, Relapse Records
Rating: 5.0/5
Reviewer: Peter Atkinson

Death metal’s not typically big on surprises or variation. But New Zealand’s Ulcerate deliver both in bunches on their stunning, smothering fourth album Vermis.



The trio meld the technical dexterity and brutality of Morbid Angel in their prime with the eccentricities of Gorguts, and set it to the turbulent rhythmic dynamics and jarring heaviness that echoes Neurosis – all while managing to sound very little like any of them in particular, save for bassist/vocalist Paul Kelland's David Vincent-like roar.



Vermis is an avalanche of swirling, elliptical riffing and chaotic drum salvos and stilted tempos, a seething mass that hurtles ever forward with nothing to stop it but the end of the album itself. That just three guys are making all this glorious noise is nothing short of amazing.



And it's not like Ulcerate add much, if anything, in the way of frilly extras, effects or layers of instrumentation here. Kelland, drummer/percussionist Jamie Saint Merat and guitarist Michael Hoggard just don't seem to waste any notes, and use what they have to fill whatever space is there, which makes for a dense, crushing heavy and assaultive album that is as genuine as it is punishing. Yet the towering “The Imperious Weak” and “Cessation” and the disjointed “Weight of Emptiness” are epic masterworks that boast an eerie, imposing beauty.



And it's that aesthetic sensibility that set Ulcerate apart from the rest of their tech-death brethren. Too many bands get wrapped up in complexity, wankery or death metal's inherent ugliness – or some combination thereof – and end with something that is all flash or bash. Ulcerate use their obvious prowess and almost jam band-like approach to create atmosphere, soul and purpose – all while still grinding your face into the floor.



Vermis is a savagely smart, often mesmerizing album that could legitimately be called “thinking man's death metal” - as pompous as that might sound. But if this isn't it, I don't know what is. Brilliant.
Track Listing

1. Odium
2. Vermis
3. Clutching Revulsion
4. Weight of Emptiness
5. Confronting Entropy
6. Fall of Opprobrium
7. The Imperious Weak
8. Cessation
9. Await Recission

Lineup

Paul Kelland - bass/vocals
Michael Hoggard - guitars
Jamie Saint Merat - drums

Other reviews

» The Destroyers of All
by Demonator

» The Destroyers Of All
by Metal-Rules.com UK Team

» Vermis
by Metal-Rules.com UK Team

» Vermis
by Peter Atkinson


Next review: » Uncoffined - Ritual Death and Funeral Rites
Previous review: » Tyr - Valkyrja





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