» Blog Archive Review: Ulcerate - Stare into Death and Be Still -
Evan Conway Hard Music, News, Reviews

In a perfect world, Ulcerate is the biggest death metal band on the planet. I can’t fathom why more people haven’t been turned onto this band, but their track record of break-neck speed, cacophonic death metal is one of a kind. Darker than Gorguts yet not as much of an oddity as Imperial Triumphant, the New Zealand trio have long found their own brand of death metal, and on album number six, Stare into Death and Be Still, the band is perfecting their concrete and foolproof formula. In case you haven’t guessed it yet, this is one of the best death metal releases of the year, if not in music as a whole.

And it’s only April.

Continuing from where Vermis and Shrines of Paralysis left off from one another, Ulcerate charges forward with the world at their mercy. The band’s tightened their songwriting and performances from Shrines, in which the guitars are more prominent and dissonant, the bass is perfectly audible to hold down the rhythm, and the drums are a flurry of chaos, even on the lower tempo moments such as the opening of the album’s title track. Even then as the beat picks up and the typical-Ulcerate-insanity comes forth, the band swerves and dips and swerves on a rollercoaster adventure that you don’t find enough of today.

It’s this perfect balance that Ulcerate finds in the rawness and cleanliness of their mix. Stare into Death sounds amazing, and so much better when you’re fully immersed by a good set of headphones. This album is a very active experience that demands your full attention, just for how smart it is. That’s not to say we’re bending the genre in different ways here, a la Atheist and Spheres-era Pestilence, but what Ulcerate are bringing to the table is far from the Bolt Thrower and Demilich worship that we’re seeing a lot of today in the death metal scene. I love when bands acknowledge their influences and wear it on their sleeves, but you need a track like “There Is No Horizon” to really bring you back to earth, cast you into the void, and remind you what vacuity death metal can conjure; Ulcerate have a controlled chaos that the more polished tech death bands can’t even hope to match, and that’s a straight fact.

I’m going to avoid spewing any more praise because you get the idea by now: this album slaps. It’s a masterclass of peak death metal that is on another plane of existence from the rest. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a more compelling, thought-provoking, and well-constructed album in all of metal this year. Dark, brooding, and sinister, there’s something in the water that Ulcerate is drinking, and I just gotta ask… Are you guys okay? Do you need a hug? Maybe a beer?  Don’t stop doing what it is you’re doing best but good god

Stare into Death and Be Still is out everywhere today on Debemur Morti Productions. You can stream the album’s title track below.

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