Review Summary: Opaque perfection
A deathly silence befalls an idyllic utopia, the populace leering at the menacing, discoloured sky, all feelings of serenity erased, supplanted by a morbid fear of the unknown. Ears tweak, sounds otherwise unheard become deafening, sinister and frightening. The sky is a blood red hue, a distant drone of thunder slowly becomes ever more ominous, the fabric of space and time itself almost appearing to contort at will. The sound of thunder, twisting architecture and seven billion fated souls coalesce as the sky disassembles, revealing a swirling maelstrom that leads only to a perpetual abyss. This isn’t a mere natural disaster, nor the rise of Hell – this is something much more final. Ulcerate’s sophomore album manages to conjure images that few albums of any kind can; it is a soundtrack to the end of the world as we know it.
From the instrumental amalgamation of the opening sequence in “Drown Within”, the cacophonous and yet strangely harmonious bedlam that permeates “Withered and Obsolete”, to the gargantuan climax of the title track, Everything is Fire
is one of the most remorseless listens you will ever experience. Uncanny technicality coupled with a complete absence of ostentation lays the foundation of the musical insanity. The interplay found within the polytonal guitar work produces a shape shifting aural environment, striking the perfect balance between uncompromising brutality and atmospheric purgatory. Jamie Saint-Merat’s drumming is not only stellar in terms of speed and dexterity, but superlative in technique, his elegant cymbal work somehow merging with the musical chaos that encompasses it. The brief hushes scattered throughout Everything is Fire
serve as both release mechanisms and atmospheric building blocks, as if they’re the eyes of the most hellish storms that have ever raged. This forms a perfectly congruent and unbroken journey throughout the end of all things, with the musical intensity subsiding only when absolutely necessary.
Everything is Fire
virtually epitomises “density” in a musical context, compositions are intricate, the instrumentation unyielding, and the sound engineering is profuse and exceptionally loud
. As such, it is incredibly easy to mistake its almost impenetrable sound for incomprehensibility. Listeners will not
be able to absorb the intricacies within one, two, three, five, perhaps even ten listens, because it’s in the detail where Everything is Fire
truly shines. It’s a little bit of a shame that perhaps the album’s ostensible disorder may be considered a hindrance, due to its minutiae being lost on uncommitted ears. Seemingly disconnected chords reveal their worth over entire arrangements as opposed to between verses, and sparse feedback tones and ringing guitars reiterate that – even in light of the virtuosity of the musicians – you’re experiencing a very human body of work. The album succeeds not just through instrumental and compositional mayhem, but its eerie communicability. Beneath the hellish aesthetic is a repertoire of emotion and sentiment, touching upon the deepest regions of the human condition, perhaps regions that the listener would prefer unexplored but are ultimately better off for having done so.
Everything is Fire
is an anomaly in the world of metal, intangibly expressive and introspective, through seemingly nothing more than pure violence and trepidation. As a technical achievement, it is in the company of some of the finest works in death metal, yet it is so much more than that. Everything is Fire
has the ability to summon some of humanity’s most sullen and final reflections, but it leaves it up the listener to determine whatever they may be. A modern classic, and a genuine expansion upon death metal’s artistic scope, Everything is Fire
is not only among the finest albums to grace the genre in the twenty-first century, but one of the finest of all time.