Review Summary: A thoughtful and well-crafted death metal album that fuses solid songwriting with an unwavering atmosphere that brings to mind Ulcerate's previous releases, but also hints at something more
The riffs of The Destroyers Of All
bellow with resounding force as the vast soundscape that they create begins to rear its head, a trait not unfamiliar to those who have heard Everything Is Fire
, but one that has changed in its delivery. New Zealand’s Ulcerate isn’t intent on trying to create the proverbial rip-your-face-off intensity that is so often attributed to such a crushing sound, and that may very well be what sets it apart from the scores of other death metal acts that focus on creating the most violent music possible while leaving behind nods at progression and atmosphere. It’s in the moments when Ulcerate slow things to a crawl and deliver a winding and dissonant rendition that bleeds atmosphere that shows a band who know that composition is the key to intensity rather than a mindset to go all-out on their instruments in whatever fashion they so choose. That’s what sets Ulcerate apart- an eye for the small things that make the bigger picture of what a well-thought out death metal album can be appear crystal clear.
It’s not necessarily a genre-overhauling performance in terms of innovation, no; in fact many can argue that what we have here is more of the same. Indeed, the premise of what Ulcerate is doing has changed little in their career, only appearing a bit more deliberate and drawn-out on The Destroyers Of All
. The extended takes on each track doesn’t mean that the band is spreading concepts dangerously thin, but instead they are doing just the opposite: developing ideas more articulately and fully, leaving each song as a finished product that does what it needs to and doesn’t linger a second further (the only exception being the exit of the title track, which can be forgiven and seen as a way to wrap things up). The way tracks like “Beneath” build themselves up to a level where such unchained intensity can come crashing down, yet seem effortless and a natural progression of the track is a remarkable achievement, one that is a testament to the sheer songwriting power and diligence Ulcerate have in their compositions.
The Destroyers Of All
is an album that wraps dissonant and non-conventional riffing patterns (like the Immolation-esque guitars on the opener “Burning Skies”) with the astounding drum performance that fuses technicality with functionality, often laying waste to the plodding guitar riffs with thundering double bass kicks and incredibly complex beats and fills while still retaining a sense of belonging within each individual song. It can be said that the guttural vocals lack variance and become tiresome over time, a complaint that is indeed valid with a vocal performance that is good but lacking the emotional power to propel it to the next level. As time progresses, some riffs do bring about a strange sense of deja vu, but with an album with no tracks under six minutes and one filled with songs that all fall along the same mood, it was almost to be expected.
Regardless, the Ulcerate we have here is continuing to evolve from a more fast-paced, intense past to a more deliberate, yet somehow heavier present while still retaining a fervent sound that is reminiscent of their back catalogue. Their songwriting ideas haven’t changed too much, they simply stretched themselves out to allow a fuller and more complete album to spawn from them. That said, their ideas have become more focused and their songwriting skills are incredibly cohesive, creating an album filled with similar ideas that somehow fails to bore the listener. Couple these skills with musicianship that is nothing short of impressive and what’s left are the makings for an album that can’t be considered anything less than a resounding success for a band that is beginning to make its mark on the world stage. Some may hunger for the unabated intensity of Everything Is Fire
or Of Fracture And Failure
, but the crushingly heavy atmospheres and undeniable cohesiveness of The Destroyers Of All
may stay your craving permanently.