Ulcerate

The Destroyers of All

01. Burning Skies
02. Dead Oceans
03. Cold Becoming
04. Beneath
05. The Hollow Idols
06. Omens
07. The Destroyers of All

[01/25/11]
[Willowtip Records]

When flicking through a list of recent metal albums for something that might appeal I stumbled upon this release by New Zealand based Death Metal outfit Ulcerate. Though Death Metal, at least in its purer forms, has never really been a passion of mine, it is the apparent incorporation of Post Metal into their sound that caught my eye, not to mention some pretty glowing reviews from other online critics. I am a huge fan of Sludge and keeping that in mind, I will be reviewing this album from that perspective, so apologies in advance for my ignorance in certain aspects of this release.

If you had asked me what would happen if you chucked two minutes of blast beats into a Cult of Luna song, I would have likely had misgivings, and this album would vilify such negative expectations. The drumming stands as one of the major issues with my enjoyment of many of the songs on the album. The drum track is very high in the mix and though this wouldn’t have to be a problem in itself, the nature of the drumming does not accommodate this decision well. Maybe technically capable to a fault, the drummer comes across as stylistically erratic, often jarring and frequently scuppering any attempts to build up atmosphere. Rhythmic variation is a powerful weapon if used cleverly, but sometimes the rhythmic consistency is so strained, it really weakens the drive of the music. Similarly, the vocal delivery comes across as a little high and weak for the style and the guitar is often misjudged. Though tonally well done and with solid rhythm lines, a preference for excessively high tremolo passages is more grating than textural.

On a less nit-picky note, I just found a lot of the songs on The Destroyers of All to be fundamentally dull. Long repeated passages are a staple of the genre but only work due to a considerable amount of long-term variation in mood. I’m not necessarily expecting Cult of Luna-esque post rock breakdowns in every song, but I feel the tone within tracks and across the album as a whole is woefully uniform.

In spite of all this, as a sludge album, The Destroyers of All is not without its charm. An undeniable technical flair on behalf of all those involved, along with a largely solid production and mixing effort allow for some great moments. Improving hugely as it goes through, the last two tracks are massive improvements upon the rest of the album, the final track especially well worth a listen.

Judging by some other reviews I’ve seen of The Destroyers of All, it’s hard not to think maybe I’m in the wrong but I feel, in a misguided attempt to sound ‘challenging’, it largely comes across as dull and unpleasant. Maybe as a Death Metal band dipping their feet in the sea of Post-Metal it’s a revelation, but when looked at from the other side, it fails to charm.

Ulcerate – The Destroyers of All gets…

2.5/5

– TC

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