Dutch metallers detonate some new dynamics
Any band featuring current and past members of Dodecahedron and Textures is going to turn our heads. That’s simply because, before you hear a note of Ulsect’s excellent debut, you can already giddily envisage torturous time-changes and the kind of supreme control over tonal dissonance mastered by Meshuggah or Deathspell Omega.
“There’s an intriguing grey area between what can be perceived as ‘beautiful’ and ‘unacceptable’ in terms of musical tonality,” offers Ulsect co-founder and guitarist Arno Frericks. “We’re fascinated with exploring this dividing line. The contrast between our most dissonant and more consonant passages creates an interesting tension and often forms a turning point that grabs attention. From a rhythmical point of view, we play with shifting patterns to contradict straight- forward parts and to diversify larger sections of a track.”
Unlike Dodecahedron’s equally paralysing music, great spatial awareness is found throughout Ulsect. Tense moments of ill-quiet are juxtaposed with downpours of technical death metal and post-metal at the most opportune times.
“We indeed search for ways to utilise such contrast and tension in our tracks,” says Arno. “In this case, lucent atmosphere serves as a relief from the surrounding dissonance, and it even helps bring out the harshness of these abrasive parts.”
Ulsect were formed by Arno and Dodecahedron’s guitarist Joris Bonis, long-time friends who started working on demos together because of similar artistic visions.
“The demo material we created in the writing process was used to approach and convince the right people to join us in our endeavours,” Arno reveals. “Living in and around Tilburg, most of us had at least met before at local shows or through mutual friends, but we’ve grown closer since the actual formation of the band.”
Despite finalising the lineup as a five-piece, Ulsect’s tales of “human failure and prophecies of demise” are composed solely by Arno and Joris.
“We’ve written and re-written countless concepts and always seem to agree on where things should head,” says Arno, providing insight into their symbiosis. “We create detailed demo recordings to help us judge our own ideas later on. This works very well for us as it eliminates the need to simultaneously play guitar and evaluate compositions. Every now and then we sent other members a preview of our work to incorporate some feedback. The only exception to this method was the creation of the pattern-based track Moirae, for which our drummer Jasper Barendregt [also of Dodecahedron] came up with the initial concept and gave direction.”
Ulsect are so obsessed about their art that they even undertook to produce their debut themselves, with Joris handling the recording, mixing and mastering, while Arno’s artistic flair extended to the creation of its austere artwork.
“Creating the artwork for this album allowed me to blend my personal affinity with photography and design into our music,” he confirms. “The volcanoes incorporated portray a devastating force lurking beneath the surface, awaiting inevitable eruption. We seek a similar kind of tension in our music, using passages of delusive-tranquillity-awaiting-imminent-outburst into crushing walls of sound.”
Who are they?
LINEUP: Dennis Maas (vocals), Arno Frericks (guitars), Joris Bonis (guitars), Dennis Aarts (bass), Jasper Barendregt (drums)
SOUNDS LIKE: The discordant axis between death and post-metal.
FOR FANS OF: Dodecahedron, Zhrine, Gorguts
CURRENT RELEASE: Ulsect (Season Of Mist, 2017).
Contemplating death in a godless world
Anger and sadness seem to be the prevailing emotions of the day, which suggests that The Crawling may be perfectly placed to resonate with all whose worldview has taken a beating recently. Formed two years ago in Lisburn, Northern Ireland, these adventurous students of Peaceville Records’ pioneering death/doom stable of the late 80s and early 90s delve deep into life’s harsh truths on their debut album, Anatomy Of Loss.
“It’s a doom and gloom affair,” admits vocalist/guitarist Andy Clarke. “The inspiration and ideas behind all my writings are based on the negative side of humanity and the adverse reaction to the ever-changing life we find ourselves in. I find myself obsessed with people’s tendency to focus on the miserable aspects of existence, and the relentless search for a coping mechanism.”
Veering from balls-out, mid- paced death metal to subtly gothic post-punk squall, the songs on Anatomy… exhibit a rawness and honesty that marks its creators out as creatures of instinct, not artifice. As a result, songs as venomous and warped as album highlight Acid On My Skin wield genuine emotional clout, as Andy explores the nature of grief and how religion preys on the bereaved.
“I have endured grief many times,” Andy explains. “I have lost family as a young boy, friends as a teenager, and now family as an adult. I’ve also had to watch others go through the same. Religion provides many people with a coping mechanism. I’ve no issues with anyone’s beliefs, but I personally find the concept acidic.”
Having already performed at Bloodstock and Inferno Festival in Oslo, The Crawling are racing upwards through the doom/death ranks. Nonetheless, Andy and his comrades are determined to keep it real as they pursue their dreams.
“Longevity and productivity is the key,” he concludes. “That’s our plan, to keep writing, playing and having fun, in the hope of making our voice heard above the sea of other bands out there. Failing that, we may simply evolve into pessimistic misanthropes…”
Who are they?
LINEUP: Stuart Rainey [bass/vocals], Andy Clarke [guitar/vocals], Gary Beattie [drums]
SOUNDS LIKE: Unpredictable, doom-laden fury with a melancholy heart.
FOR FANS OF: Morgion, Vallenfyre
CURRENT RELEASE: Anatomy Of Loss, (Grindscene, 2017)
Resurrected Chileans return to the depths
Many current acts attempt to relive a death metal golden age that occurred when most of their members were barely born, but as far back as 1993, Soulrot’s José Olmos was already trying his hand at emulating his favourite bands, such as Entombed, Carnage and Nirvana 2002. Alas, that experiment only lasted for six months. “The other guys I was playing with weren’t as committed as I was,” the guitarist recalls. “Then the high cost of studios here in Chile and illness left me on the sidelines for quite some time.”
When he met Jacob Wilschrey in 2009, who was then touring with Sadistic Murder, they started talking about their mutual love of the classic Scandinavian sound and by 2013, Soulrot was back. After two demos and one digital single, the trio – completed by Daniel Fredes, who also plays in Sadistic Murder, on drums – have just released their debut album, Nameless Hideous Manifestations.
“We’ve tried to capture that classic death metal style based on the dismal and rotten Scandinavian sound,” says José, “fused with more complex arrangements and some death/grind elements, like a pitchshifter effect on some vocal parts. Plus we have a logo openly influenced by Nihilist and Entombed and easy to read. By looking at it, you know we worship the traditional sound of the early 90s.”
It shouldn’t come as a surprise, then, that …Manifestations is heavily influenced by one of metal’s most popular inspirations: HP Lovecraft and his Cthulhu mythos. Never mind that approximately 2,876 bands have already tapped into that well of cosmic horror before…
“It’s like beer: it never gets old!” laughs José. “And there will never be enough bands paying homage to Master Howard Phillips if you ask me. That being said, we obviously know that limiting ourselves to one single subject depletes the boundaries of our music so we’re also dwelling in conspiracies theories, supernatural forces and the whole pre-Columbian culture mythology.”
Who are they?
LINEUP: Jacob Wilschrey (vocals & bass), José Olmos (guitar), Daniel Fredes (drums)
SOUNDS LIKE: Classic Swedish DM via Chile with that Southern American touch of crazy.
FOR FANS OF: Entombed, Sadistic Intent
CURRENT RELEASE: Nameless Hideous Manifestations (Memento Mori, 2017)