It is no secret by now that I have a lot ( i mean a fucking lot) of time for Ulcerate. I have been listening to metal for over 30 years now and I am sadly at a time now were very little excites me in the way of new releases. I have over-indulged in the past, trying to consume as many new releases as possible in a given year and just ended up stuffed with underwhelming music that makes no impact on what little hunger of mine still remains for the pursuit of new releases. If I look at the music library of today and compare it with the music library of 30 years ago it is clear that I had a lot less back then, relying on a family member's collection to get me going on my metal journey and saving what little money I had to buy music of my own every few months or so. Back then buying a record, CD or cassette made me feel excited, awash with the hope that I was about to be treated to several tracks of metal mayhem that would keep me entertained for months to come. I long for that feeling again more than I acknowledge but what is clear to me is that there are only a handful of bands whose pending releases can make me feel that passion for metal rekindle again. Ulcerate sit in the top two of such bands (Gorguts lead).
To say I am astonished by the continued development of the New Zealand death metallers is an understatement. They have consistently but together intricate and involuted music for virtually their entire recorded careers. Their music is now in such a hybrid state that it is equal parts monstrous as it is complex; impenetrable and labyrinthine beyond any puzzle the mind could fathom yet still conveying enough atmosphere and emotion to speak volumes to me. The past two releases that precede Stare Into Death And Be Still have been nothing short of superb, with both Vermis and Shrines of Paralysis sounding as fresh and challenging today as they did when I first purchased them.
Putting into words the success of their latest offering is difficult, since despite multiple listens to it there is still so very much that I am learning about this serpentine coil of explosive and expansive death metal. It is however an obvious success in terms of it following the aforementioned two albums and it still displays so many trademarks of the band whilst also pushing their sound forwards and in more exploratory directions. What is massively obvious here in 2020 is that Ulcerate have found the perfect means to apply rich and voluptuous melody to their sound without sacrificing any of their trademark ferociousness and clinical pursuit of swarming and menacing music. The ariouse nature of some of the music on display across the eight tracks available here border on being dulcet. They pinch like the disscordance of a Blut Aus Nord yet give a warmth akin to some of the more ethereal elements of Drudkh. The placement of melody in this huge wall of noise that the threesome generate is in itself a massive achievement. Musically the album feels like it is shifting like tectonic plates, giving the rumble of impening doom yet when fissures crack they spew canorous jets of calming and emotion enducing moments that temper the overall threat of the album beautifully.
This isn't technical for technical's sake. It doesn't feel obtuse or showy at any point it just simply smells of well written and well thought out songs that encompass an array of ideas that are arranged to deliver optimal impact. Quite where it leaves Ulcerate as a musical force is frightening because surey at some point they are going to hit a wall after nearly ten years of flawless music? I don't have any criticism of the album, which is rare for my grumpy old ass. The only fear that I have is this unwillingness to consider that I will ever stop being excited as I was as a teenager about the release of any future Ulcerate material, and I hope that they continue with their God like powers for years to come.