2. ULCERATE, “Stare Into Death and Be Still’ (Debemur Morti)

For whatever reason, New Zealand death metal warriors Ulcerate were a band I always liked and respected but that didn’t click with me totally. Hard as I tried, and I’ve positively reviewed their records in the past, they were always a group that it seemed the people around me found a level of appreciation I couldn’t discover myself. Then their sixth record “Stare Into Death and Be Still” arrived in April, and this eight-track, nearly hourlong opus changed everything in my DNA when it comes to Ulcerate. This record made everything fall right into place, as every ounce of this album completely destroyed and regenerated my metallic DNA, and I’ve returned into their back catalog with a newfound desire, and the music has answered me back. Maybe the horrible times we all were experiencing this year helped push this, as their ashen, bleak, technically astounding playing matched the darkness of the times as the band—vocalist/bassist Paul Kelland, guitarist Michael Hoggard, drummer Jamie Saint Merat—recommitted to their creativity and their smoking penchant for delivering bruising music on one of the most original records on a resume full of open mindedness.

“The Lifeless Advance” punches its way open as spindly guitars ignite, and deep roars make their way into the mix. Melody bursts and slathers into hell while the drums dust skulls, and cavernous chaos opens and swallows you whole. “Exhale the Ash” begins with an energy surge, and the tempo blasts as the drums climb up and pulverize, as the guitars send body jolts. The growls you can virtually feel in your chest as the leads burst and add different colors, while the bruising floods, and the ends comes in a pit of punishment. “There Is No Horizon” has a dark and hazy beginning as it simmers in shadows before tearing its chest wide open and mangling listeners in its gears. Cool guitar work drips through like leaking pipes before the leads explore the atmosphere, and the growls carve a path back to the center. “Inversion” explodes immediately and lands blows as monstrous growls and devastating playing loosen screws. The guitars sting and feel like they’re pulling in alien transmissions while the playing swims inside your head, making you feel disjointed and lost before the back end of the song mashes in your head. “Dissolved Orders” is your closer, and it starts with clean notes that help the song slowly flow along until it meets up with a flooding guitars and grisly growls. The pace tends to hypnotize in spots and freezing winds chill your soaked flesh, while heavy growls sound like they’re trying to digest you. This cursed collection of 12 months at least finally gave me my emotional connection to Ulcerate, and that’s a fire that’s not going out any time soon thanks to this record. (April 24)

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/ulcerate

To buy the album (North America), go here: https://debemurmorti.aisamerch.com/

Or here (Europe): https://www.debemur-morti.com/en/12-eshop

For more on the label, go here: https://www.debemur-morti.com/en/