Ulthar – Anthronomicon (Review)

Ulthar - AnthronomiconAnthronomicon and Helionomicon are the third and fourth albums from US death metallers Ulthar, following on from 202o’s Providence. Released on the same date, this review will cover Anthronomicon – see the review for Helionomicon here.

Ulthar’s brand of death metal is idiosyncratic and satisfying. The music mixes together technical, melodic, dissonant, and atmospheric death metal, with influences drawn from classic and modern styles, and delivers a black/death metal hybrid of great personality and sharp teeth.

Anthronomicon is the more conventional album of the two in the sense that it has eight songs and a duration of 41 minutes. Whereas Helionomicon channels Ulthar’s corrupting influence into colossal explorations of long-form composition, Anthronomicon focuses their blackened arts into tight slices of malevolence that bleed intensity and barbed menace.

Each track is a monster of clawed aggression, taking the strengths of Providence and refining these further. The twisted labyrinths that Ulthar stalk down are adorned with terrible sights and sounds that entrance and absorb. The music’s warped journey is dripping with the rot of old-school black/death metal, yet paradoxically also precise and fresh in a contemporary way. The atypical blackened darkness savages and tears, but also transports through the sort of sonic extremity the builds worlds with ease.

This is an album to delve deep into and savour. The music has direct appeal, but it’s resolutely a collection of songs that rewards the time invested in its spiked charms. The songwriting is strong, balancing a near-chaotic delivery and intricate structuring, with precision brutality and feral atmosphere. Many of the serrated riffs are standout moments in their own right, and when bundled up with into an entire song, dark magic is worked. Ulthar are a well-controlled maelstrom of creative violence and inspired ferocity.

It is readily apparent on both of these new releases that Ulthar have pushed themselves, and the results are as impressive as they are enjoyable. With a recording that makes the most of the music’s adventurous sense of identity, Ulthar sound better than ever in all ways.

Essential listening.


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