Ulcerate – Vermis

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Review by Jason Guest

Relapse Records

New Zealand’s Ulcerate are fucking heavy. Their 2007 debut Of Fracture and Failure established that. Ulcerate are unafraid to push death metal into ever-darkening and more experimental territories. Albums number two and three, 2009’s Everything Is Fire and 2011’s The Destroyers Of All made that abundantly clear, the latter a clear indication that Ulcerate’s musicianship and their mastery of the technical as well as the brutal was on the ascent. 2013 and Vermis sees the band blasting through the boundaries and exploring the darkness to new and deeper depths.

As the ugly stench of atmospheric opener ‘Odium’s slowly ascends, the tone is set for the album: dark, oppressive, menacing, and driven by something deep within. To call this an assault would be an understatement. While the unremitting savagery of the title track is enhanced by the unpredictable-yet-fluid structure and dense character, it’s ‘Clutching Revulsion’ that marks the most significant development in the band’s collective abilities as musicians and song-smiths. Here, Ulcerate’s controlled chaos is devastating. In seven minutes, they utterly destroy what the term “atmospheric” usually denotes within extreme metal. The darkness is heaving with destruction as much as it is creativity, its sheer heft both crushing and cathartic. A break from the onslaught of the seven-minute slabs of annihilation, the frailty of ‘Fall To Opprobrium’, at just under three minutes, echoes ‘Odium’ and acts as both a respite and a refrain, a reminder of the darkness beneath the darkness that underscores this incredible work.

Ulcerate’s attitude towards song structure and development as a linear process means that in eschewing any tried-and-tested, done-to-death approaches to arrangement, each track has a voice of its own. Each voice has its own story, its own narrative arc, and so the tracks are more an inimitable journey where each moment is as potent as what is usually the remit of the denouement. A trio, Ulcerate have outdone not just themselves but most of the death metal bands that consider themselves forward thinking. Take heed. This is forward thinking, and then some.

Ulcerate - Vermis8.5 out of 10

Track listing:

  1. Odium
  2. Vermis
  3. Clutching Revulsion
  4. Weight Of Emptiness
  5. Confronting Entropy
  6. Fall To Opprobrium
  7. The Inmperious Weak
  8. Cessation
  9. Await Rescission