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Ulcerate - Stare into Death and Be Still Award winner

Stare into Death and Be Still
by Martin Knap at 02 April 2020, 9:22 AM

I love music that is can be vast and deep, emotional and technical at the same time, that’s what has always drawn me to “avantgarde” Metal like GORGUTS or DEATHSPELL OMEGA or any other bands that write vast, dense songs and do interesting things with harmony and counterpoint. ULCERATE is a prime exemplar of this strange atmospheric Tech Death that explores the territory first entered upon by the aforementioned bands (some kick-ass examples are CEREMONY OF SILENCE from Slovakia or AD NAUSEAM from Italy). They have reached wide acclaim with their first two albums, and I’ve followed them for some time already. It’s been fascinating to watch them grow: with every new album they break new ground and their 2016 release “Shrines of Paralysis” has been an absolute tour de force.

The New Zealand three piece’s sound is super dense, it balances technicality with atmosphere and emotion in a way that few bands are able to achieve. The music is atmospheric and textural, but the angular guitars, that sometimes carry more melody, as well as the very lively, organic drumming are captivating and impactful. Together with the dense atmosphere the music enthralls you like a view of something that is sublimely vast and intricately patterned. The songs are monumental, flowing organically from one section to another, it can be oppressive and claustrophobic, visceral and violent or meditative and hypnotic. There is always a thrilling harmony, a massive groove or a an emotional melody that carries the songs forward, at no point does “Stare Into Death And Be Still” cease to captivate you or gets stale.

Which is a massive achievement with a somber, bleak, monochromatic record like this. To me some of the previous albums could suffer from monotony a little bit, but this album just keeps on giving. On the A-side the title track stands out, it’s a great example of the kind o emotional yet brutal sound that ULCERATE has achieved. It has been understandably chosen as the first single from the album. But the other songs are also hard hitting and memorable, take “There Is No Horizont”, for example, which towards the end has a hauntingly beautiful, calm break before a cataclysmic finale crushes your soul. On the B-side I will highlight the slower, pensive “Visceral Ends” with its emotional, soaring melodies, and the closer “Dissolved Orders” is also very visceral and impactful. The sound of the album is the same as on their previous releases – it’s sounds quite compressed and could sound richer and more dynamic, but that’s my only small qualm here.

“Stare Into Death And Be Still“ is another great achievement of this band, qualitatively it’s on par with “Shrines of Paralysis”, and has resonated emotionally with me the most from all the band’s albums. ULCERATE has created another cosmic Death Metal masterpiece and one of the essential albums of 2020.

Songwriting: 10
Memorability: 9
Musicianship: 10
Production: 9

5 Star Rating

1. The Lifeless Advance
2. Exhale the Ash
3. Stare into Death and Be Still
4. There Is No Horizon
5. Inversion
6. Visceral Ends
7. Drawn into the Next Void
8. Dissolved Orders
Jamie Saint Merat - Drums
Michael Hoggard - Guitars
Paul Kelland - Bass, Vocals
Record Label: Debemur Morti


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Edited 05 December 2022

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