Ulcerate
Stare Into Death and Be Still


5.0
classic

Review

by Jacquibim STAFF
April 15th, 2020 | 5128 replies


Release Date: 04/24/2020 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Ulcerate set new standards as they usher in the new decade.

As if its title wasn’t beseeching enough, Stare Into Death and Be Still depicts a world in which the usefulness of hope itself has been exhausted. Even in the midst of a world-ending cataclysm, hope once represented a final source of impetus to prolong ones life against seemingly impossible odds, now all but depleted. If Shrines of Paralysis was the score to the end of the world as we knew it, then Stare Into Death portrays the immediate aftermath, in which the calamity is still fresh in the minds of those (un)lucky enough to remain. Scorched wastelands now extend as far as the eye can see, littered with the charred remnants of human endeavour throughout the millennia, come to nought and bathed in a muted orange hue. The revelation is that one can no longer fool themselves into believing humanity may recover, and whether one embraces their death, or attempts to thwart it is irrelevant.

This isn’t to say the violence of Ulcerate’s art has vanished, just that it’s been repurposed. Stare Into Death doesn’t so much conjure images of voracious quasars as it does manic, warring diasporas, fuelled in equal parts by fear of a desolate new world and wanton bloodlust. Relative slow-burners like the title-track and “Dissolved Orders” are the lulls amid a chain of intensifying storms, existing as omens rather than reprieves. The uncomfortable truth of humanity’s finite existence is spelt out by Michael Hoggard’s palm-muted down-strokes, seeming to tick like an ominous pendulum clock. It’s no coincidence that these songs were chosen to presage the album’s release, as they beautifully compound the effect once everything resumes at full-tilt.

It’s when we come to the midpoint of Stare Into Death that we feel the unfettered brunt of Ulcerate’s new direction. As exhibited by “There is No Horizon” and “Inversion”, the greater presence of melody hasn’t quashed the intensity of their music one iota, flaunting some of the most frenetic yet self-aware musicianship we’ve heard from them yet. While these two tracks are among Ulcerate’s more direct, at least in terms of structure, it’s the interplay between Hoggard’s guitar lines that elevates them – bolstered further still by Jamie Saint Merat’s virtuosic drumming, as well as the evermore present bass and vocal work of Paul Kelland. Their newfound sense of melody is now in perfect tandem with the dissonance that once characterised Ulcerate’s music more than anything else. One can’t really describe the motifs on Stare Into Death as being wholly either; instead the riffs and leads constantly play off one another, loitering on the edges of tonality and rhythm in a harrowing yet graceful, symbiotic display.

“Exhale The Ash” is like a microcosm of the album at large: infectious yet deceptively technical refrains, building upon all things prior; ever-present counterpoint that may go unnoticed, but the effect of which is always felt; and changes of pace that are as fluid as they are vast, bound together by a superbly balanced though visceral sound palette. At one point, Merat even settles into an unassuming kick-snare groove, as if to offer a morsel of comfort before denying it to you and snickering at your exhaustion. Though a minor detail, this reflects the painstaking process that Stare Into Death was borne from, so as not to waste the potential of even a solitary note. From the disorientation of “The Lifeless Advance” that opens this behemoth, to the solemn anti-climax of the aforesaid closer, “Dissolved Orders”, Ulcerate have eclipsed every one of their past endeavours in terms of their signature, veiled poignancy.

Granted, all of Ulcerate’s works have an “apocalyptic” vibe to them, but until now seemed to revel in the ruination of the worlds they depict, as opposed to dwelling upon it. Stare Into Death is their only album as yet in which the theme is the futility of one’s valour, placing front-and-centre the emotional disarray that comes with such a realisation. If this latest effort cements one thing, it’s that we will never hear an album quite like Everything Is Fire from Ulcerate again. Perhaps that’s for the best, given their evolution from the chaos of their ‘09 masterpiece, to a more harmonically rich style is, at last, complete and something to behold. Hearkening to albums past would be too steep a regression now, as the bit-by-bit progress made in melodic complexity is too fundamental to be undone. Were Ulcerate to revert back to their roles as the impersonal, unflinching narrators of doom – with a soundtrack to match – the soul-stirring nuance that imbues Stare Into Death couldn’t be fully-realised.

Though bleak and misanthropic as ever, there is an odd sense of catharsis to Ulcerate’s latest and perhaps greatest body of work yet. As Stare Into Death approaches the twilight of its run-time, the tempest we’ve come to expect doesn’t materialise, and the proverbial sun sets on mankind and its journey. People unknown clutch at items of sentimental value, clad in ash and soot, and bearing the faces of people unknowable. It dawns upon all that they will not survive, nor will they be survived, and so the mantra goes, “Stare Into Death and Be Still”.




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Comments:Add a Comment 
Jacquibim
Staff Reviewer
April 15th 2020


4369 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Their best maybe idk



Birb https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kYgSrrVnGrc



Edit: Now streaming on Revolver https://www.revolvermag.com/music/hear-extreme-metal-innovators-ulcerates-stunning-new-album-stare-death-and-be-still

Nocte
Contributing Reviewer
April 15th 2020


12930 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Second.



Edit: Jom babe, can I post mine now?



Edit #2: Nevermind, no way I can top this.

Demon of the Fall
April 15th 2020


17174 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Damn, a wild Jac 5/5! So this really is up there with EiF for you then? As a fellow truther my hype has reached unimaginable levels.

Digging: Hooverphonic - A New Stereophonic Sound Spectacular

Jacquibim
Staff Reviewer
April 15th 2020


4369 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Yeah, not sure I prefer any individual song on this to Withered and Obsolete or Omens, but I'd say it's their most consistently amazing overall

Artuma
April 15th 2020


31830 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

title track is a fucking banger, can't wait

parksungjoon
April 15th 2020


22191 Comments


bloody hell made me salivate

just as well because my pizza has arrived! ha

Digging: Have Mercy (MD) - Armageddon Descends

Jacquibim
Staff Reviewer
April 15th 2020


4369 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

t/t is like top 4 agreed



thank you park fren < 3

parksungjoon
April 15th 2020


22191 Comments


might check the leak today then

AsleepInTheBack
Contributing Reviewer
April 15th 2020


6646 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

heck would you look at that average

ComeToDaddy
April 15th 2020


1825 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Yeah the t/t is insane, and this review is phenomenal. Can't wait to spin it

dedex
Contributing Reviewer
April 15th 2020


5313 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

ooooh hyped hyped hyped



gonna wait like a good doggo tho

Digging: Georgie Sweet - Misunderstood

ramon.
April 15th 2020


3746 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

thesaurus hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha, etc

Jacquibim
Staff Reviewer
April 15th 2020


4369 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I'll never recover from that, dang

Nocte
Contributing Reviewer
April 15th 2020


12930 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

That build up to the finale. Tbh

Deathconscious
April 15th 2020


25329 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Pisssssssssss

Digging: Blood and Sun - Love & Ashes

Jacquibim
Staff Reviewer
April 15th 2020


4369 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

@Nocte - usually Ulcerate save something big for the last couple minutes but I love the way it just peters out. There's a nice kinda circularity to the whole thing when I jam it from the start again.

Willie
Moderator
April 15th 2020


18818 Comments

Album Rating: 3.8

I love these guys in super-short doses, but have never been able to get through an album. I've listened to this a few times over the last month, and I'm having the same issues. I'm not giving up though. Awesome review.

Nocte
Contributing Reviewer
April 15th 2020


12930 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Minimum 4.4 on this Willie, I'm glad you're giving it the full go though.

Jacquibim
Staff Reviewer
April 15th 2020


4369 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Yeah it's either between this or Destroyers for their most accessible. This is busier but also has a lot more hooks, so I dunno maybe it'll click for you?

parksungjoon
April 15th 2020


22191 Comments


Destroyers is the most... Sparse? Is that fair to say? In a neurosis kind of way



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