Ulcerate - VermisUlcerate

Vermis

01. Odium
02. Vermis
03. Clutching Revulsion
04. Weight of Emptiness
05. Confronting Entropy
06. Fall to Opprobrium
07. The Imperious Weak
08. Cessation
09. Await Rescission

[09/17/13]
[Relapse Records]

As far as fledgling subgenres go, post-death metal is as unlikely as it gets. Combining heavy-hitting death metal with atmospheric qualities sounds like a mess on paper, but has seen surprisingly brilliant execution. New Zealand’s Ulcerate are leading the pack in that regard, wowing fans of brutal death metal and those seeking musical furtherance alike. Borrowing from a densely chaotic sound built by the likes of Gorguts and Deathspell Omega, Ulcerate have risen to the good graces of the online metal community and Relapse Records following the release of their third album The Destroyers of All in 2011. The release saw a transformation for the group, wherein they allowed their aggression to steep in moments dark shoegaze for a sound unlike any other.

As praised as the album was by critics, the band themselves found that there was something missing from The Destroyers of All. In interviews leading up to release of their fourth album and Relapse Records debut Vermis, drummer Jamie Saint-Merat confirmed a renewed focus on grime and brutality where the more pensive nature of The Destroyers Of All felt “too clean” for the band’s liking. In the context of Ulcerate’s discography at large, The Destroyers of All was the eye of the storm, practicing restraint, dynamic, and an enveloping sense of atmospheric doom — an omen of greater evils still to come. Vermis follows through with the release of this tension and shifts the emphasis on the unsettling chaos and writhing brutality to create an album that is an even greater force of destruction than its predecessor, despite its title.

While the aesthetics may be caked with an extra bit of mud and rust, Vermis is largely the sound that we’ve come to expect from these vicious Kiwis, albeit avoidant of the progression expected by many fans. It wasn’t hard to imagine Ulcerate’s creeping guitars and open space turning into something even more progressive and pensive in nature. Vermis is indeed quite an introspective album, but the soundscapes are dense and seething with hatred, with much of the restraint practiced throughout The Destroyers Of All being thrown out the window.

For instance, across The Destroyers Of All, Ulcerate’s wall of guitars acted almost like a unified body that moved songs along through passages of noise, almost like the tech drone that Portal has been known for — ambiguous in nature, but with a presence that is undeniably fierce. Vermis sees the return of Everything Is Fire‘s style of playing that finds more stand-out guitar riffs and staggering rhythms that provide more of a jarring forward momentum through the album’s noticeably darker and sinister depths. Mission accomplished.

With the extravagant return of Gorguts with Colored Sands, it would be easy to dismiss Vermis on the grounds that Ulcerate aren’t as necessary for the furtherance of death metal as they once were. On the contrary, there’s no reason why both like-minded albums can’t coexist and contribute similar ideas to the extreme metal pool of knowledge. It’s a good year for extreme metal for sure no matter where you stand, and if Vermis doesn’t land on your radar, you’re not looking in the right place. Vermis may be incredibly brutal, but it’s also vastly intelligent and thought-provoking, making it one of the best extreme metal albums you’ll hear this year.

Ulcerate – Vermis gets…

4.5/5

– JR

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