Ulcerate - The Destroyers of All
Death Metal
7 songs (52:49)
Release year: 2011
Ulcerate, Willowtip
Reviewed by Charles
So, in my review of Deathspell Omega’s Paracletus, this was the band I compared them to. Perhaps not that obvious a link, but it is apparent that the two acts share something. Whereas other metal bands write songs as if they were building a wall- this beat goes on top of that riff and that vocal line- these groups have a much more fluid approach; compositional ideas are like structureless gelatinous liquid, flowing from idea to outlandish idea as if buffeted through river rapids. Total metal, as I called it in that review. But if Deathspell Omega are a rushing torrent, Ulcerate are like a rolling flow of lava. They have a particular knack for a sort of psychedelic, twisting style in which slow and contorted, almost doomy riffs are underpinned by a blaze of up-tempo death metal percussion; a juxtaposition which gives their music a mind-warping feel.

But whilst Paracletus saw a band tightening their songwriting, with shorter tracks, this takes a small step in the opposite direction. The song lengths have been inched up slightly, from an average of about six minutes, to an average of about seven or eight minutes. This may seem like a small thing. And sure, the first few times I listened to Destroyers of All, it sounded like very much the same deal as the last album, Everything is Fire. Disappointingly so, actually. But, several listens later, it dawns that this record is, in fact, of a rather different character. It is slower, and it is darker. It generally abandons the more frantic ideas that surfaced in thrilling fashion on tunes like Caecus, instead playing more on the brooding menace of The Earth at its Knees. Thus, those mind-warping ideas described in the previous paragraph become the centrepiece.

And so churning, roiling opener Burning Skies takes the form of a series of utterly abstract guitar lines, slowly and uncomfortably winding across spans of several bars before repeating again. And under this is a grimly forthright death metal blast, goading the lumbering riff-beast with its rat-a-tat. Gorguts springs to mind, in the sheer pained discomfort of the sound. Like that band’s classic quasi-ballad Clouded from the Obscura album, this has a sad, melancholy feel to it; the last breaths of a malevolent artificial intelligence. And rather than simply functioning as a particularly dark opening statement, this is really how it continues, with each tune dependent on its ability to subtly manipulate dynamics within this slowed-down framework. Centrepiece Beneath begins as a drifting void of ethereal ripples of semi-clean guitar, out of which rises a primal, grinding slow riff evoking one of Immolation’s down-tempo numbers. It is in these sheer drops and escalations from abstract quiet to crushing volume that much of the interest is generated, and, to refer again to Deathspell Omega, this gives it the maniacal qualities of a record like Fas – Ite…. This likeness is particularly strong on the ten minute stop-start closing title track, which seems to drift freely from one bizarrely-angled death metal riff to another, halfway through withdrawing into a seasick low ebb in which double-kick percussion never actually leaves but merely dies down to a whisper underneath a malnourished wash of watery guitar.

Whether this represents an improvement on previous works, then, depends very much on how much effort you are prepared to invest in it. It is more impressionistic, rarely dazzling you with technical or brutal ideas, and instead taking the form of a darkly brooding mood piece. So you have to listen, without distractions- anything else and it seems simply like a slower, less eventful version of its predecessor. An imposing and demanding album.

Killing Songs :
Burning Skies, Beneath, Destroyers of All
Charles quoted 85 / 100
Other albums by Ulcerate that we have reviewed:
Ulcerate - Vermis reviewed by Goat and quoted 70 / 100
Ulcerate - Everything Is Fire reviewed by Goat and quoted 90 / 100
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