A solid hour of inspired and relentless intensity

The extreme Antipodeans return with their highly anticipated fourth full length LP, Vermis on new label, the high profile Relapse Records. The trio of guitarist Matt Hoggard, bassist/vocalist Paul Kelland and drummer Jamie Saint Merat, who received almost universal critical acclaim with their last LP The Destroyers of All, aim to set the benchmark even higher with nine tracks of aural warfare.

The brooding and menacing intro track ‘Odium’ is the perfect set up for the outright sensory assault that is the title track. Maybe it was just the copy I was listening to or the headphones I was using but to me the mix initially sounded extremely muddy and reminded me of my first listen to Hate Eternal’s Fury & Flames where everything just blended in together in a sea of double bass kick drums and shrieking guitars.

It did take me a little while but once I finally got used to what I was hearing; a song like ‘Clutching Revulsion’ will start and immediately destroy complacency. The stop-start death metal combined with post rock/metal stylings reminiscent of some of Gojira’s output means you can never really get comfortable at all and that is the band’s main aim. It is only adding to that discomfort when a majority of the tracks are around seven minutes in length.

The well received first single – with over 20k hits on Youtube – ‘Confronting Entropy’ absolutely slays. I can just imagine watching the band performing this song live in a few months’ time with my jaw nailed to the floor.

The instrumental and introspective ‘Fall to Opprobrium’ is the perfect time for a breather before the start of the highlight of the album, ‘The Imperious Weak’. It starts to build towards a crescendo, slowly plodding along with a repetitive time signature before reaching a desolate drum beat and then all hell breaks loose yet again. You can never tell what is coming with Ulcerate. They keep you guessing. Their sound initially leaves many people (myself included) confused and confounded. Recent comparisons have been made to the likes of Gorguts and Immolation and they’re not far off the mark with Merat acknowledging these influences in a recent interview.

It is an album not for the faint of heart and admittedly can be challenging at times, but is ultimately rewarding. The Relapse website defines Vermis as “An instant classic of forward thinking death metal!” I’m not really sure what that means. Maybe that Ulcerate is the thinking man’s death metal band for all the chin scratching, deep thinking head bangers out there? However you define it, Vermis is nearly a solid hour of inspired and relentless intensity. It may not be an “instant classic” but it’s definitely going to destroy some eardrums in the meantime.

1. Odium
2. Vermis
3. Clutching Revulsion
4. Weight of Emptiness
5. Confronting Entropy
6. Fall to Oppobrium
7. The Imperious Weak
8. Cessation
9. Await Recission