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Brutal death metal can be a tricky genre to get right. Overdoing the technicality and savagery can result in music that goes right over most people's heads and sounds like the musical incarnation of schizophrenia, while not enough can lead to something that makes absolutely zero impact. Ulcerate have managed to straddle this thin line quite well with their second demo effort, and thrown a killer self-production job into the bargain.
Seriously, this sounds like it was done in a decent quality studio, not in a bedroom over a couple of weekends. The drums are crystal clear, the guitars tear at your face with vicious precision, the bass rumbles mercilessly and the vocals boom over the top (although sometimes they're a bit too loud, which is the only gripe I can think of). The packaging, too,is top notch - pro-printed insert, full colour label on the CDr, and killer artwork done by the band's multitalented drummer.
As for the songs, they're quite surprisingly distinctive.
There's a definite set pattern here, with an even distribution of high-speed tremolo shredding underpinned by meticulous blasting, some slower - almost doom-death - parts which burst back into high speed, and of course some insane guitar solo's. That's not to say it's devoid of melody, since some of these riffs will stick in your head quite well. In particular, the opening riff-set in the title track, the crunching outro of "Unhallowed Ascension" and the equally crushing finish of "Second Death" stand out in this manner, as do the lead guitar abuse in the last two songs. The bass generally follows the guitars, but occasionally ventures into it's own counterpoint sections, but is always an audible undertow holding the chaotic, unpredictable nature of these songs together. Changes occur fairly regularly too - one section will flow quickly into a different tempo without warning, and a lot of these parts have a very jagged, angular feeling offset by the more straightforward moments.
Overall, this is a very clinical, yet savage release - fairly typical of
the better modern brutal death bands, which means fans of examples such as Deeds Of Flesh, Gorgasm, Nile and Hate Eternal will find much to enjoy here. To get hold of a copy, just email the band on ulcerate AT hotmail DOT com, or visit their website for further details.