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Ulcerate - Shrines Of Paralysis album review

New Zealand avant-savants mix clarity with terror

cover art for Ulcerate's Shrines Of Paralysis

Death metal’s slow return to the depths of the abyss over the last few years has conjured many great things, but it’s hard to shake off a sense that people must like the idea of bands like Ulcerate more than the often impenetrable reality of the art itself.

This is intensely internal music, wrung from the darkest depths of the New Zealanders’ collective consciousness and spewed out with flailing abandon like Cthulhu bursting through the earth’s surface. It speaks of unimaginable horrors, as barbarous and excruciating maelstroms of dissonance and rhythmic ebb and flow like the opening Abrogation and the unnervingly bleak There Are No Saviours unfold. Unlike obvious peers Portal, Ulcerate don’t sublimate their nihilism from within a dense cloak of hazy noise; the streamlined grotesque of Extinguished Light and the epic, doom-sodden title track wield great emotional clout because you can hear everything that is going on, albeit raw and unvarnished as post-metal nature intended. Another evolutionary jump for these shadowy Kiwis, but not one that caters to the easily bewildered.

Dom Lawson has been writing for Hammer and Prog for 14 intermittently enjoyable years and is extremely fond of heavy metal, progressive rock, coffee and snooker. He listens to more music than you. And then writes about it.