Review Summary: Ulcerate has managed to craft a truly superb album combining atmosphere and brutal death metal
Hailing from Auckland, New Zealand, Ulcerate is a Death Metal band that truly stands out amongst its many peers within the genre, combining both ambience and heaviness within the album's eight tracks.
Upon listening to the album, many will make the connection that Ulcerate takes many cues from the band Gorguts, especially from their Obscura album. This in fact is quite true. The guitars have that uncanny riff structure similar to Gorguts that is both heavy and delicate at the same time. What makes the similarity stand out even more is the vocalist, whose growls sound almost similar to the tortured screams of Gorguts vocalist. The growls are used so effectively throughout the album that they add a very somber, almost helpless sound to the already drowning guitar tone. Take the intro "Drown Within," the guitars change from doom metal slowness to rapid fire all while the vocalist screams his way through tortured emotions. The resulting sound almost replicates the feeling of actually drowning, slowly being enclosed upon with little hope left.
But before one can write this band off as a Gorguts rip off, let it be known that what make Ulcerate stand out so much is their inane ability to blend technical death metal with atmosphere. The guitars use a similar riff pattern through each song with changing time signatures and staccato notes, but they're never recycled into other songs nor considerably overused. Combined with the drumming, which by the way is very diverse and adept at keeping the speed of the album going, the drums manage to complement the passages of each song with both the guitars and the vocals.
What makes me love this album so much and why I believe it manages to stand out so well is the amount of atmosphere that this band pours into this album. Everything from the slower guitar sections accompanied by bass to the quicker, pure death metal aspects of the album goes so well together to create an album that sucks you in. Some songs go the slower route, such as "Tyranny," where the entire song is nothing but relatively fast drums, mid paced to slow guitars with a heavy bass presence, before completely dying near the end where all that's left are a couple guitar strums. It's an incredibly impactful song that just shows the lengths to expression that death metal can take. Then take songs like the title track "Everything is Fire," which blazes through with intense speed all the way to the very end before crashing to a halt, an almost perfect outro to any album.
I can't say that this album or band will appeal to everyone; in fact, it took me quite a while to completely adjust to the new sound. But once I managed to surpass that hump, I managed to find myself enthralled with the amount of talent and energy that this album contains. It truly is incredible how expressive a genre such as death metal has become since its inception. Forget most technical death metal bands, Ulcerate is here, and is here to stay for a while, proving my point exactly why metal as a whole is indeed the most artistic and expressive of all music genres.