Album: Stare Into Death and Be Still
Genre: Death Metal
Label: Debemur Morti Productions
Location: New Zealand
FFO: Mithras, Defeated Sanity, Hate Eternal
Ulcerate has unleashed a new beast into their catalog that brings on the clearest production from them to date. They have the “it” factor where it’s just dirty enough to keep the edge to it without sacrificing too much clarity. The mix throughout the album is very consistent with the tone - dark, aggressive, and mysterious. My favorite part about this mix are the vocals. I love raw vocals but this is the opposite spectrum. The vocals are very much covered in effects. Normally I’d be slightly against something like that but it only adds to the overall sound they are going for here. There are some downsides to this which I’ll get into though.
The opening to this album has a very nice groove to it before getting down to business. With the first song ‘The Lifeless Advance’ being 7 minutes, you get a good idea of how pacing will be for this 8 track, roughly 1 hour long LP. Not many bands can pull off long songs like this, where only one of them is under 7 minutes. Oftentimes other bands resort to random switch ups and pacing that throw off the core of the song to justify it’s length. Ulcerate doesn’t do that. They keep each song relatively different from each other but they also make sure to have the songs make sense. It’s not like three songs put into one. This also helps with smooth transitions between songs. The only thing I’d say holds back from better pacing are the vocals.
Oftentimes you can appreciate a longer song when you can tell the difference between multiple verses over repeated choruses and such. With Ulcerate, the vocals are very much blended all over the place with effects. They stretch, echo, penetrate but also lay on top of everything else. It makes for a very cool sound but much higher difficulty understanding. Unless you listen to this album over and over again, you most likely won’t be able to tell the difference between verses, choruses, bridges, ex. Again, I don’t want that to take away from the cool sound it results in. It can just have a dent on how the pacing is perceived. The instrumentals bring back a distinct feel a Ulcerate fan would be fond of and familiar with. They bring forward a very dark energy to pair with the moody lyrics. ‘Stare Into Death and Be Still’ holds true to its name in the themes it holds with the core topic being death and the different ways it can often be perceived, taken on, and dealt with.
There’s no doubt some replay value here. It’s not something I’m 100% all engines go for but even then I’ve enjoyed my couple listen throughs and plan on having more. I love that it brings more to the table than your average Death Metal record. This is something they have done for most of their career though. When looking at their past music, they have always roughly maintained this same atmosphere and quality. Even the production from their 2016 album can be very easily compared to this. Consistency is always good in some forms but sadly it also results in repetitive albums. If you ask me, this album is very very much like really anything else they’ve released just with better production. But that doesn’t stop me from enjoying what is here when looking at this album alone.
This is a Death Metal record with more than just the cliche riffs and angles. It has an overwhelming atmosphere that swallows you. And there’s nothing I love more in my metal than the atmosphere done right, for the most part. Ulcerate have not disappointed for over 20 years and they aren’t going to start now.
Strongest Song: Inversion
Apple Music: https://music.apple.com/ca/artist/ulcerate/269626062