Throughout the years, Auckland, New Zealand’s technical death metal trio Ulcerate have created an epic and savage music imagery. Since day one, they have kept that monstrous spirit, which was born with the birth of the band and grew bigger, stronger and wilder.
And their brand new opus Shrines of Paralysis is nothing short of the trademarked ferocious chaotic world of Ulcerate. Separated into eight parts, Shrines of Paralysis is 57 minutes of total struggling apocalyptic scenery at its finest.
Opening song “Abrogation” is reminiscent of Gorguts’ self-titled song from their 1998 classic masterpiece, Obscura. Wasting no time on an introductory piece of music, they attack with a killer dose of guitar riffs from Michael Hoggard, riding on Jamie Saint Merat’s chaotic blast beats. His style of drumming and the way he assembles the multiple construction of each part plays a main role in Ulcerate’s music and has become one of their trademarks over the years.
It seems the drums’ volume is a turned up a bit on Shrines of Paralysis. It stands on top of other instruments’ sounds and punches them nonstop, but not in a negative way. It is fully controlled and masterfully played to help the rest of the band to define and develop the challenging and annihilating vision they are looking for.
Shrines of Paralysis is a dense and dynamic experience from the very beginning to its very end. It’s full of striking moments filled with varied death metal subgenres, a spectacular collection of technical, progressive and avant-garde death metal. When it goes downtempo, sludge and death/doom metal influences are happening at many points of the album.
All along its brutality there are some slight touches of melodic riffs. At a very occasional moment, Ulcerate go ritualistic with the song “Bow to Spite.” Ulcerate’s last two albums, The Destroyers of All and Vermis were dynamic, but Shrines of Paralysis is the most diverse and dynamic album Ulcerate have ever put out.
Songs’ running time range from five to mostly eight or nine minutes long. Shrines of Paralysis is a long album and 57 minutes is usually too long for a death metal record. But when it comes to the marvelous, epic soundscape Ulcerate have created along with the phenomenal musicianship, songwriting and performance by the band, it is easy to stay connected with the album and utterly enjoy it from start to finish.
All three members of Ulcerate are on top of their game and Shrines of Paralysis is a magnificent release. It’s Ulcerate’s best effort to date, a dark, epic and apocalyptic wandering through the human condition and its struggles in a world with no light and hope, captured by the closing track “End the Hope.” Shrines of Paralysis is an album that will keep Ulcerate’s name as one of technical death metal’s best.
(Released October 28th, 2016 on Relapse Records)