November 15, 2013

Filthy Music Review - 'Ulcerate:Vermis'

Ulcerate -  Vermis (2013)

Relapse  Records

Review by Trevor Proctor

Vermis is the fourth album from New Zealand’s death metal forerunners and their first since being signed to the excellent Relapse Records. Prior to its September release Ulcerate’s drummer Jamie Saint Merat stated they wanted to explore “the over-arching theme of spinelessness and oppression” with “many different types of oppression being explored on the album” whilst returning to a level of unpredictability he felt had been missing from their previous release “The Destroyers of All.”

Vermis begins with the brief, yet atmospheric and menacing “Odium” that reminds me of elements of “Widowmaker” by Dragged into Sunlight. Odium leads nicely into the title track “Vermis” that sounds more alike to the Ulcerate we’re used to. Showcasing Merat’s ever efficient, rapid drumming, it’s a technical yet brutal track that maintains the onslaught constantly, only slowing during the last of its six minutes.

“Clutching Revulsion” follows and is just one of five tracks on the album that surpasses the seven minute mark. Ulcerate use the seven minutes wisely, encompassing many styles and speeds, they switch from sludge driven atmospheric doom to breakneck, blast beat driven discordance with ease, filling the listener with loathing and dread as they progress.

“Weight of Emptiness” is another track longer than seven minutes but, again, it’s used most effectively as you don’t notice time passing due to the feelings of despair and desolation conveyed throughout. “Weight of Emptiness” gets off to a moody, oppressive start fueled by slow hate driven guitar before Paul Kelland’s screaming vocal pierces the blackened atmosphere with his slow, horrific vocals. This is almost eight minutes of torture, horror and pain accentuated and driven via Merat’s precise, powerful blastbeats – another hate fueled journey to the bowels of Ulcerate’s oppressive hell.

The shortest track featured on Vermis is “Fall to Opprobium” it’s another instrumental that’s just over 2 minutes long. It may be short but Ulcerate use this short period most effectively to further convey the darkness. Apart from an occasional cymbal tap drumming is absent but bleak, desolate guitar tones are sufficient to portray the inescapable, forlorn feelings that permeate Vermis.

Ulcerate tend to be more complex and concentrate on song structure more than many of their contemporaries and this is most definitely the case with Vermis. Comparisons have been made between Gorgut’s Colored Sands and Vermis. For me the most instantly noticeable comparisons are the length of tracks featured on both albums (five tracks on each album pass the seven minute mark) and vocal styles which, at times, are quite similar. For me this is where the commonality ends – Colored Sands has moments drenched in experimental musical beauty but there is no beauty on this hate filled opus, an intended sense of oppression and brooding atmosphere permeate throughout. The salient point of this album is the haunting, pervasive, blackened atmosphere that prevails, an atmosphere that many others have attempted, and failed to achieve.

This a difficult but rewarding listen, one that sucks the energy and feeling from your very soul, you’ll be left emotionally drained after a full listen but it’s well worth every last second. What Ulcerate have achieved with Vermis is a perfect balance between foot-to-the-mat, yet technical aggression and blackened, oppressive atmospherics and feelings.


1. Odium
2. Vermis
3. Clutching Revulsion
4. Weight of Emptiness
5. Confronting Entropy
6. Fall to Opprobrium
7. The Imperious Weak
8. Cessation
9. Await Rescission

Vermis is available now from Relapse Records.

No comments: