Anthronomicon 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 Helionomicon – see the review for Anthronomicon here.
Ulthar’s brand of death metal is idiosyncratic and satisfying. The music mixes together technical, melodic, dissonant, atmospheric, and brutal death metal, with influences drawn from classic and modern styles, and delivers a black/death metal hybrid of great personality and sharp teeth.
Whereas Anthronomicon is the more conventional album of the two, offering a focused example of Ulthar’s terrifying material, Helionomicon contains just two tracks, but still has a total duration of 40 minutes. This is Ulthar at their most exploratory, channelling their multifaceted music into two immense songs that twist and turn with slithering grace and serrated horror.
Markedly more progressive and avant-garde than the music on Anthronomicon, these two songs offer a psychedelic expedition through mountains of treacherous and wonderous terrain. Ulthar’s worldbuilding is advanced and compelling, and both of these epic pieces hold the listener’s rapt attention through good songwriting, striking memorability, and exemplary execution.
Of course, the angular extremity and blackened aggression that graces Anthronomicon is present and correct, only on Helionomicon this is augmented and enriched by increased progressive structuring and more classic metal/death metal influences.
Helionomicon is like a cross between Ulthar and prime Death, only elongated. The classic metal influences can really be heard in some of the leads especially, and it’s a roaring work of extreme metal. Anthronomicon continues in a similar vein, only with more of an old-school death metal feel mixed with progressive emotive colourings and a greater emphasis on riffs. Both tracks are highly engaging and both eventually end in electronic heat death.
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.
Check it out here.
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