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ULCERATE Cutting The Throat Of God

By Peter Atkinson, Contributor
Friday, June 14, 2024 @ 11:03 AM


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ULCERATE
Cutting The Throat Of God

Debemur Morti Productions




In 2014, Norway's 1349 offered up the album Massive Cauldron Of Chaos, whose title was fairly apt for the churning black metal therein. That phrase, however, could easily be used to describe the entirety of the catalog of New Zealand's ULCERATE.

The trio's dissonant, unorthodox death metal din is "massive" in every sense and chaotic in its execution with the tornadic rhythmic thrum, shapeshifting guitars, and ominous vocals/unsettlingly poetic lyrics ULCERATE stirs together with vehemence and aplomb. That is especially true of album number seven, Cutting The Throat of God.

With its cold-blooded title, Cutting picks up about where the equally cold-blooded Stare Into Death And Be Still left off in 2020 and takes things further into the maelstrom as the band works off some of the pent up urgency and intensity left from the pandemic's inertia. Indeed, at seven tracks and roughly 58 minutes of music, "massive" is really an understatement here, as the songs average eight-plus minutes per, with the opener "To Flow Through Ashen Hearts" being the shortest at "only" 7:07.

Yet for all of that, you won't find much in the way or fat or bloat, even as the songs meander as they do, never settling into really anything resembling a verse-chorus-verse groove. There are quiet stretches here and there that the band uses to either catch its breath or, perhaps more accurately, reload, and they do provide a flow and ebb that gives the material more of an enveloping/smothering feel than the usual gut-punch contrasts and haymaker battering, and even a hint of elegance.

In a manner similar to NEUROSIS, it's the rhythms - and more specifically the drums - that drive the ULCERATE machine. Jamie Saint Merat's remarkably agile, seemingly freeform, yet purposeful playing alternates from furious blasts and galloping clatter to an almost jazzy shuffle or tribal-esque pounding. And it provides the perfect platform for Michael Hoggard's guitaring, which sweeps and swoops like a Golden Eagle riding thermals before diving after its prey, then rising back up to soar majestically until it's time to kill again - sorry, have obviously been watching way too many nature programs.

ULCERATE's approach strays far from the typical boundaries and standards of death metal and ends up resembling a more aggressive/feral version of the pounding post-metal of, say, CULT OF LUNA. A yin to their yang, as it were. And it's the band's wanton unconventionality that makes its calamitousness all the more captivating.

The title track, which closes the album, perhaps comes closest to resembling traditional death metal constraints. At the very least, it's the tightest, grooviest track, with the sweeping trem guitar lines and blackened sprints offset by chugginess and a chunky section that delivers some rare real-deal hooks. Pretty much everything else is a vast, tumultuous, almost impenetrable expanse - but it's pretty awesome, nonetheless.

Lest the title make you think ULCERATE is going off on some DEICIDE-like sacrilegious tantrum here, bassist/vocalist Paul Kelland's lyrics are some of the headiest, most literate you will find anywhere in metal, let alone death metal, which has a well-earned reputation for knuckle-dragging crassness and idiocy. The title track's penultimate verse - "The execution of omnipotence / The divinity to become / The supine inflicted with one more tragedy / The apostasy of the unspoken / Cutting the throat of God" - reads much more like Dante than Glen Benton.

And thank, umm, God for that. In spite of Kelland's imposing roar, it speaks to the album's underlying theme of walking the tightrope of morality with uncharacteristic eloquence, something that has long separated ULCERATE from most everyone else.

Yes, Cutting The Throat Of God is long, and it's pretty much an all-in proposition once you hit play since it is far from a casual listen. But your commitment - or patience - will certainly be rewarded. This is awe-inspiring stuff by a band that continues to not just push the death metal envelope after 20-some years but rip it to shreds, even if that has meant limiting its appeal to a wider audience. And good on them for that.

4.5 Out Of 5.0


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