Shrines Of Paralysis by Ulcerate

Release date: October 28, 2016
Label: Relapse Records

Raging together flawlessly this New Zealand tech death trio boss through this album track by track. It’s been a good three years since previous effort Vermis was released, which marked a significant change in style and atmosphere from the more straight-forward approach of albums past. Their paradigm shift shows a more matured band able to pick out more nuances from their colour palette of brutality and sorrow and turn their already masterful music into a monolithic and formidable piece of art. Ulcerate has fleshed itself out to further its evolution, and now album number five and 2nd for Relapse Records, Shrines of Paralysis, marks their transformation complete.

Think of Shrines of Paralysis as one harrowing journey into the depths of the psyche, where each track flows perfectly into the next to create an abysmal world where ordered precise chaos reigns supreme. Guitars, bass and furious skin beats all come together in perfect (dis)harmony whilst throwing your mind about amongst the dreaded and beautifully chaotic atmospheres. It’s fucking mesmeric. It’s a glorious ebb and flow of doom-laden horrors and brutal mastery.

Technical death metal usually doesn’t do it for me. There is just something extremely annoying about the constant chopping and changing and inability to keep up a blastbeat, but Ulcerate truly take their technical abilities and make metal their own fascinating and unique way. As I previously mentioned there is order to this chaos, it’s free-flowing structured madness at it’s malevolent best, and a madness so fucking peaceful to get lost in. As each note is played (with immense prowess) you fall further into the chasm, and every track that goes by claws at you and imprints it’s memory with vehement fiery licks.

This album was conceived as one entity instead of eight separate tracks and should be played as such to be fully appreciated. The complex time signatures, drum patterns and dissonant hellfire truly shines as do the chaotic textures that build the album’s frenetic and miserably brutal atmosphere. Spiteful riffs drive fury through the miasmic veil of noise thanks to guitarist Michael Hoggard’s bleeding fingers with tracks like ‘Abrogation’ and ‘Yield To Naught’ showing his wizardry. Along with demon possessed Paul Kelland’s bass both guitarists rage in battle with riffs intertwining, fighting and complementing one another, with the latter furiously vomiting forth his voice with what are still some of the best vocals in metal. The album is battered and bruised during its near 58 minute run time by the bludgeoning abuse of drummer Jamie Saint Merat, whose precise and disciplined throne work is the star of this release.

This is Ulcerate laid bare, who I imagine met in a darkened room to spew forth their collective consciousness to shape the bones of this album, whilst each members contribution comes in form of their own internal fire and bleeding ever-growing talent into the veins of this release. These guys have constructed something many artists fail to deliver from a concept, and that is simply a world the listener can fall into and become lost in the vast denseness of its audial tapestry. It’s fleshed out metal with blood, sweat and tears as opposed to the usual grind produced by most of the bands out there today. Simply breathtaking.

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