Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Ulcerate- Everything Is Fire

Artist: Ulcerate
Album: Everything Is Fire
Genre: Death Metal
Year: 2009

Ulcerate. Back at the end of 2009, this second release of theirs was getting a good amount of underground buzz about the way it turns contemporary death metal on its head, not to mention its inclusion on many best of 2009 lists. I'll admit to that the artwork was intriguing enough for me, and to hear about a band actually making death metal interesting again peeked my curiosity. Death metal was an exciting genre at first, but slowly but surely, either by the staleness of the sound or because I wasn't spending my time in the right places, it was starting to become a minimal presence in my music library, at best. So, I was anxious to see if Ulcerate were up to the task of rekindling that death metal flame.

Since that time, my experience with Everything is Fire has been a roller-coaster of a journey. Straightaway, I noticed that this band sounds much different than the vast majority of garden variety death metal that exists today. It's a palpable difference, and yet it's not. A lot of this has to do with the tone they present. It's got a "holy shit, this world is fucked" vibe going on, which is what death metal should evoke, at least partly.

Ulcerate is also technical. Very technical. There's so much going on within each song, that it feels like if you stray for even 5 or 10 seconds, you feel like you've missed a lot. In fact, you feel tempted to just restart the song so that you can fully soak in, or at least try to, all of the riffs being thrown and tossed around your ears. Believe me, they fly around on a near constant basis, like bees around those bushes in spring. Your ears get as much of a work out listening as the musicians clearly get with playing. So far, I've had a difficult time deciding if this challenge is something I'm fond of, or if it's plain annoying. But I think it all comes down to what mood I'm in.

As I touched on already, a big plus with this album is its atmosphere. It's absolutely crushing and uncompromisingly bleak. In fact, the title is appropriate, considering that this band could easily be the soundtrack to watching the world be consumed by flames. The band delivers with a ferocity that you simply don't get from a lot of death metal these days. I feel the production is a big credit to this success. It doesn't have that processed, triggered feeling that is so prevalent these days. The sound of Ulcerate feels natural and human. This is an attribute that I'd love to become a more prominent aspect in not just death metal, but metal in general. Not every metal band warrants this "human" feel, since it would depend on what the band is trying to accomplish with their music to begin with. Nevertheless, it needs to be played up on more. But I digress.

When all is said and done, Everything is Fire can either be one of the best death metal experiences you can have, or the most frustrating. Ulcerate (and I) both dare you to find out. I personally can't wait to dig into their newest album, Destroyers of All, as soon as I can.

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