Written by: EW on 18/11/2013 11:48:05

Albums such as Ulcerate's "Vermis" are a tricky proposition to fully understand in a short timeframe - madly extreme, jarring and often atonal - it is built for the modern clear production style and mixed to an impressive extent, allowing for sweeping guitars to pierce the landscape of hammering drums and commendably infrequent hoarse vocals of Paul Kelland into a withering climate of dense oppression. As ever in the world of hyper-technical death metal, the deciphering of coherent songs often finds itself a mere equal at best, inferior at times, bedfellow to the display of technical proficiencies as I have discovered in this release.

Listen to the scintillating riffing at the start of "Clutching Revulsion", and hear how almost at will the toning rises from the depths to the heights of ecstasy before crashing again just as quickly. Or how in "Confronting Entropy", Michael Hoggard's lead guitar speeds off from the rhythm like momentary bursts of self-flagellation, somehow keeping in check with his bandmates who never seem to settle on the same tempo for more than two bars. This hyperactivity will be well known to fans of Origin and Fleshgod Apocalypse, while the dark discordancy rings a bell with Gorguts' latest strong release. These approximate bands are all similar (Gorguts most so) but the dark beating heart found notably in slower periods, such as "Weight of Emptiness" and at times of "The Imperious Weak", bring to mind the urban decay of recent Altar of Plagues works - unsettling and with a untrustworthy presence lurking round the corner; in short this ain't pretty stuff.

The technical abilities of New Zealanders Ulcerate is without doubt impressive, serving the death metal elite in favour of superior technicality above all else. From this perspective "Vermis" is an excellent piece of work, but the sparsity of pant-soiling, eye-gouging riffs among the chaotic maelstrom of patterns is not enough to garner the highest marks in my eyes and ears, as in the way Origin have managed in recent times, Crytopsy before them and going all the way back, Death and Atheist. It is sure heavy, forceful and belligerant to its own cause, but not memorable enough, nearly often enough.

Download: The Imperious Weak, Confronting Entropy
For The Fans Of: Gorguts, Origin, Fleshgod Apocalpse, Anata
Listen: Facebook

Release date: 17.09.2013
Relapse Records

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