Tuesday 14 April 2020

ALBUM REVIEW: Ulcerate, "Stare into Death and Be Still"

By: Josh McIntyre

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 24/04/2020
Label: Debemur Morti Productions

“Stare into Death and Be Still” CD//DD//2LP track listing:

1). The Lifeless Advance
2). Exhale the Ash
3). Stare into Death and Be Still
4). There is No Horizon
5). Inversion
6). Visceral Ends
7). Drawn Into the Next Void
8). Dissolved Orders

The Review:

My love for Ulcerate is no secret. I truly feel that they are the best death metal band since Immolation and Gorguts at the turn of the century, both bands which are crucial influences. Ever since 2009’s landmark record “Everything Is Fire”, Ulcerate have explored their twisted-yet-atmospheric sound with great consistency in terms of quality and earned much acclaim as a result.

Listening to the band feels like falling into a whirlpool, not knowing where you’ll end up. The guitar lines pull themselves apart and together again, backed by a foray of beating drums which are full of tricks and fills even at the quietest moments. The band sways back and forth, up and down in almost jazz-like fluidity while the vocals and bass serve as an anchoring point to grab onto.

“Stare into Death and Be Still” is absolutely a continuation of these elements yet it also comes off as more melodically focused. Guitars still warp around but certain harmonies sound more doom metal than in past material. As a result it comes off as more sorrowful, appropriate for an album themed on death. All of their key influences appear the same and the complex layers are still there, just in a slightly less dissonant format. Ultimately, the band sounds as if Neurosis played two Morbid Angel songs simultaneously. 

The other noticeable change is in the production. The guitars in particular sound EQ’d more on the high end with this record which has added some more clarity than usual, as if a bit of smog has been lifted. I find it to be a slight improvement in terms of sound quality. Everything sounds really punchy and direct, with only the vocals being appropriately drenched in reverb like a damn beast in a deep cavern. Thanks to the mix the beast sounds like a hole has been made for him to shout into rather than him being drowned out by the insanity of the music. 

If someone asked me to rank Ulcerate’s discography I don’t think I could do it. However, “Stare into Death…” is absolutely another gem to be added to the collection and another achievement that shows why New Zealand hosts the greatest death metal band of the 21st century. Seeing the band on their 2016 tour (where I was also introduced to the amazing Zhrine) left me wondering how the hell humans can write this music and perform it. I still don’t quite get it but I’m damn glad that these three have somehow figured it out.

“Stare into Death and Be Still” is available HERE

Band info: bandcamp || facebook