Ever have one of those seemingly hopeless days where you’re simply in the mood for the kind of music that takes you on a brain-warping, thought-stirring expedition of intensity and kicks your ass clean off in the process…only such a masterpiece is nowhere to be seen? Well, I for one have been in that very predicament way too many times to count. And the vast majority of those unfortunate instances have come and passed without even an ounce of pleasant resolution. Time and time again, I’ve found myself thinking “Hmm, word on the street is that this band is the full embodiment of unadulterated hell-raising and no-holds-barred chaos. I think I’ll give ‘em a listen!”, only to be completely let down by hyped-up recordings that could be described as mediocre rehashing at best. If someone is going to take the time to describe a band’s work and use words like “powerful“ or “devastating“, it would seem to most that the record in question should fit the bill, right? Right. But I assure you, ladies and gentlemen! Hope is out there in abundant, raging supply! You can still very well have your face melted clean off of your skull by sheer audio annihilation. This latest, glaring example of such salvation comes to us from the home of the kiwi, the island country of New Zealand. Bear witness to Auckland’s own avant-garde death-dealers, Ulcerate!
Founded in 2000 under the moniker of Bloodwreath by drummer Jamie Saint Merat, guitarist Michael Hoggard and ex-vocalist Mark Seeney, the band (which features members of Abystic Ritual and 8 Foot Sativa among their ranks) has since survived a truckload of line-up changes and honed their sound to a ferocious, skull-piercing point. With their third full-length effort, The Destroyers of All (Willowtip Records), Ulcerate expand upon the dissonance and atmospherics of 2009’s Everything is Fire with dynamic growth and a darker mood and lyrical depiction of mankind’s doomed existence. The sound Ulcerate unleashes here is a monster, pure and simple. To just call this death metal would be a vast understatement.
With songs like “Burning Skies” and definite highlight “Dead Oceans”, the band takes their brand of blackened death and adds to it a dizzying whirlwind of complexity and haunting attitude. At times, a hint of Morbid Angel-style aggression might be heard, while at other moments, a vision of a slightly more malevolent version of Neurosis comes to mind. Churning riffs, Paul Kelland’s low growls and shifting pace all flow like a flood of death-soaked, hypnotic madness from the speakers until the somber end of “The Hollow Idols” closes out this seven-track display of melodic groove and diversified brutality. For those familiar with the dilemma mentioned above, look no further. It’s all-too-easy to blab about how much ass a particular band can destroy, but if I’m lying, may the hounds of Hell devour me now. To pass over Ulcerate’s latest would be a grave mistake, for it is most definitely everything it’s cracked up to be…and then some!