Shrines Of Paralysis

Written by: AP on 17/08/2017 00:17:32

Since the release of their 2007-début album, “Of Fracture and Failure”, Auckland, New Zealand’s Ulcerate have quietly established themselves as one of the premier artists in the technical death metal genre. The band’s line-up has seen its share of turmoil, but with the core trio of guitarist Michael Hoggard, bassist Paul Kelland and drummer Jamie Saint Merat remaining intact, none of it has marred their progress, as evidenced by this fifth and latest outing, “Shrines of Paralysis”. In keeping with its predecessor, 2013’s “Vermis”, the record offers a masterclass in both immensity and technical prowess, whilst also introducing an ounce of temperance to the onslaught.

Make no mistake: the harmonies of brutality, chaos and grandeur for which Ulcerate is revered, have survived the rethink. But rather than following a philosophy of look what we can do again, the trio has begun to show off what they can write, with atmosphere given precedence over sheer bedlam. So although riffs, in the traditional sense, remain sporadic at best across the album and the music still has the complexion of an avalanche by virtue of Merat’s superhuman drumming, it all sounds a bit more sensible now. Merat has not reduced his intensity in the slightest, but in the likes of “Yield to Naught” and “Extinguished Light”, he hammers his patterns against a haunting backdrop of reverberating melodies, and learns to tone down when the music unfurls into one of the esoteric instrumental passages rife across the album. Where Origin often came to mind on Ulcerate’s past endeavours, a resemblance to Gojira on their 2007-opus, “The Way of All Flesh”, has begun to seep through these segments as the trio embraces its progressive influences and raises its ambition further.

The compositions on “Shrines of Paralysis” are thus longer and more nuanced than earlier additions to Ulcerate’s repertoire, with the seven tracks plus an interlude each presenting a manifold listening experience on its own. But more so than ever, the individual songs need to be thought of as parts of a whole; the album sweeps over the listener as a single movement — angular yet elegant. There is no tiptoeing around the fact that the record demands patience, being intense enough to paralyse a man. However, summing up the staggering technical ability (as possessed by the three musicians involved), sumptuous detail and an elusive atmosphere ultimately results in a gripping piece of contemporary death metal.


Download: Yield to Naught, Shrines of Paralysis, Chasm of Fire
For the fans of: Gojira, Gorguts, Morbus Chron, Svart Crown
Listen: Facebook

Release date 28.10.2016
Relapse Records

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