Auckland death metal act Ulcerate has been at it for over a decade now and four albums, the latest Vermis, is a further improvement; this band seems to more popular overseas – and has received a heap of enthusiastic press, perhaps because metal hardly ever permeates the mainstream press here in NZ.
There’s something pulverising and brutal about Ulcerate’s attack – as you’d hope of course. But there’s a lot of colour, it’s not all painted in none-more-black tones. Opener, Odium sets an ominous tone, all doom, all gloom, dark, oppressive, a creeping crawler of a tune. But then the title track bursts out in bright contrast. Drummer Jamie Saint Merat gets to show off his jazzy dynamism – his double-bass footwork has him Roadrunner pedalling through the tune but there are splashes and tinkles as he lightly touches cymbals, hints of heavy metal bebop even. And then it all slows down to a type of grindcore.
It’s ugly – but so so beautiful.
What’s wonderful about Ulcerate is that for all the precision – and here it’s both drummer Saint Merat and fellow founding member, guitarist Michael Hoggard who showcase technical wizardry, there’s also a rawness, a vitality that is sometimes lost when the polishing sheen of utmost virtuosity wipes out any hints of soul and feel.
So, yeah, there’s the Cookie Monster chanting that I can only take for a bit, there’s a warmonger attitude that you can’t help but feel as the relentless stomp powers on through – but damn this is good. This is some really fucking good metal man. Real good.
Tunes like Clutching Revulsion are mini-epics, so many movements, chock-full of ideas. But more than that, same with its follow-on, Weight of Emptiness, these actually are tunes, there’s melody, there’s a grace, there’s depth.
I’m a fair-weather metal fan, I could never pretend otherwise, I also don’t believe in lying, but this is the best heavy music I’ve heard in some time.