Ulcerate – Shrines of Paralysis (Review)

UlcerateUlcerate are a death metal band from New Zealand and this is their fifth album.

Ulcerate personify atypical progressive/technical death metal. They incorporate enough other styles and influences to be termed post-death metal in some respects, although they still have the requisite amount of aggression and brutality in their sound to rightfully be called a death metal band. Along with the mighty Gorguts and, more recently, bands like Fallujah, Colosso and Coma Cluster Void, they continue to push the boundaries of death metal and very much play by their own rules.

Shrines of Paralysis presents the listener with a dense, warped sound of near-impenetrable darkness and swirling chaos. The controlled violence inherent in these eight tracks seethes with a cultured brutality and emanates waves of restrained malevolence. Alongside the technical destruction that is wrought, dark atmospheres and moods are casually created and then cast aside with contemptuous ease, as the band frequently seem to quickly tire of any given theme before launching out once more in search of the next.

One of the aspects I like about Ulcerate’s music is their ability to throw so much technicality, brutality and controlled mayhem together that the tracks end up sounding like a collection of dense, dark atmospheres rather than individual songs. This may sound odd in some ways, but it’s largely not about the songcraft itself, but more about the ability to shape engaging and involving music for the listener to lose themselves in.

With twisting groove, oppressive speed and fractured melody, Shrines of Paralysis plays the long game by offering the listener pieces of murky aural artwork to lose themselves in for days, slowly absorbing the details and nuances that bleed through from the heaving sonic canvases. This is the kind of record that reveals its true colours slowly, over time and with intent listening. It’s easy to enjoy its more obvious charms from the off, (at least, it will be for some people, others will just see a wall of impenetrable noise and wonder what all of the fuss is about. Their loss), but a true appreciation of Ulcerate comes from giving it the time to settle into your brain like a weighty concern.

This kind of album is almost the epitome of the meaty feast metaphor, as there is so much to get your teeth into. The music has so much substance and weight that you’ll be chowing down on it for a long time to come, always satiated by it, but still returning for more nonetheless.

An album like this doesn’t come along that often. A very impressive and well-realised release, Ulcerate have done themselves proud with Shrines of Paralysis.

Now, turn up the volume, turn out the lights and get stuck in. There’s a lot to consume here.

14 thoughts on “Ulcerate – Shrines of Paralysis (Review)”

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