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Album Reviews : Ulcerate – Everything Is Fire

By on April 29, 2009

While I do like to spread my musical activities over a variety of genres, there is always one haven that I come back to – Death Metal. The genre contains everything I like in heavy metal – heaviness, technicality and generally, musicianship. I’ve got bands like Psycroptic there, Necrophagist, Decapitated and Quo Vadis too, and by the time the first track of Ulcerate’s 2009 album ‘Everything is Fire’ had finished, I knew it was also joining my collection – a full blown brutal death metal album, verging on a perfection that can never quite be attained.

On writing this review, I asked myself what exactly does constitute a classic death metal album to me, and the answer I came up with was diversity. While its basis should clearly be on heavy, brutal music, a variety of influences in death metal has always stood-out as a highlight and sets certain bands apart from the rest. During the 50 pulsating minutes of ‘Everything Is Fire’, Ulcerate demonstrate a host of ideas including rigorous technicality, atmospheric mood changing riffs, post-metal segments and forward thought derived through experimentation on all instruments.

The riffs and progressions by both guitarists are fascinating throughout the album and easily surpass what you would expect if you judged the band on the ‘outsider preconception’ of death metal. The key to their success is that neither guitarist contradicts or works against the other. They have fierce sections with subtle interludes too. Put simply, both guitarists in their perfect harmony, always, deserve your attention. The frantic pace set by drummer Jamie Merat is also worthy of note, which in its progressive manner, truly challenges the listener and helps to provide a kaleidoscope of visualisations for you to digest. And the vocals in their oft demonically low-end range add massive depth and even more character/brutality to the album.

I would like to go back and pick up on the ‘forward thought’ point I made earlier, as this is especially where the band shines through when compared to recent releases that I’ve heard in the genre. The music created on ‘Everything is Fire’ contains subtle technicality, bold experimentation and overtly progressive, atmospheric riffs, which leads me to my humble and hopefully not too ridiculous opinion that the Ulcerate brand of Death Metal is the new benchmark – the direction that the genre should work towards next.

Everything is Fire is a challenging listen. It has taken an eclectic mix of the past, and mixed it together with some new ideas that the band themselves have introduced. The album will open your mind to their intelligent creative concepts and let you hear the future in your ears. 9/10

Band: Ulcerate
Album: Everything Is Fire
Year: 2009
Genre: Death Metal
Label: Willowtip/Candlelight
Origin: Auckland, New Zealand

Track listing:
1. Drown Within
2. We Are Nil
3. Withered and Obsolete
4. Caecus (Reviewer’s Choice)
5. Tyranny
6. The Earth At Its Knees
7. Soullessness Embraced
8. Everything Is Fire