5 Stars: Ulcerate - Vermis

by Matt Hensch

"Vermis" is the sound of falling into a sightless world devoid of any sensory input whatsoever, and try as you might to escape, you never can. Forever lost in a strange emptiness, you can only swim in your own anguish, moving but not quite moving; feeling but not quite feeling; existing but not quite existing. Ulcerate's chaotic raid of technical death metal � la Gorguts' "Obscura" has reached a new threshold of volatility, rivaling the content of their previous outings and continuing the strenuous, cataclysmic display of musical entropy that sounds like a tsunami of fire and destruction decimating everything that ever existed while the sun makes its final blast of light before falling into oblivion. Thank Ulcerate for this descent into darkness.

It's insanely hard to believe that this whole album is the work of three dudes. I can think of several groups that layer their music in dense keyboards and orchestral movements and extra guitar parts and overlapping vocals and sound effects and so much more, but this is far more thicker and filling. Ulcerate stylistically matches up with the weirder side of Gorguts and other technical bands that have redefined perplexing extreme metal in esoteric fashion, such as Deathspell Omega and Portal. Here, "Vermis" appears as a flurry of twisted, cacophonic riffs heaving and slicing through truly abstract percussion patterns that fly and spin between guttural growls and the cryptic madness hovering over Ulcerate. The riffs and perverse guitar sections are utterly spectacular, as they apply disjointed twangs and pulverizing sequences that are dark and wretched beyond words.

Paul Kelland's guttural yelps sound pretty damn good against the atmospheric backdrop, though his performance is quite limited in style. However, it really doesn't matter; the real show is in the sensory overload featured throughout "Vermis." Ulcerate also adds in some clean haunting guitar parts on occasion, especially during "Odium" and "Fall to Opprobrium, that remind me a bit of Neurosis. I really enjoy the title track and "Weight of Emptiness," although each cut deserves special mention. The production, too, manages to balance out the auditory bombing excellently, placing the right instruments at the right volumes and giving the overall musical threshold a fresh, decipherable interpretation of the labyrinthine storm of revulsion.

"Vermis" is a single fragment that manages to transcend the cookie-cutter idea of technical metal. Nothing spoken from the tongue of Ulcerate makes any sense at all, yet there's a startling amount of cohesion within its words. The sinister cluster of noise and growls coming from the turbulent grinder of sound delivers an atmosphere that will shock, repulse, disturb, and corrode. In fact, I'm willing to say "Vermis" has proven once and for all that Ulcerate is technical death metal's new king, and none dare challenge its throne. With so many fantastic records preaching individualism and intelligence already under the hand of this faction, "Vermis" shows evolution through pain, the iconoclastic clattering of a group at its apex. Terrific effort, one of the finest of 2013.

Order the CD here or the vinyl here. Digital version available here.

5 Stars: Ulcerate - Vermis

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