The third full-length from New Zealand-based death metal band Ulcerate isn't that different from its predecessor, 2009's Everything Is Fire. The band still balances between atmospheric guitar textures (calling what Michael Hoggard plays "riffs" is extremely reductive) and powerful, blastbeat-driven but equally spacious drumming from Jamie Saint Merat. Bassist/vocalist Paul Kelland is a forceful growler and in some ways a second guitar voice; he's not playing traditional basslines that attempt to anchor the music in any way. "Dead Oceans," for example, has two or three things going on at once -- Saint Merat is demolishing the drum kit while Hoggard plays desolate, soundscape-like guitar figures that are in a much slower tempo than whatever the drummer's doing, and Kelland chants his lyrics like a preacher. Periodically, it all comes together in a hammering assault, and that's Ulcerate in a nutshell. They are clearly a death metal band, but a very adventurous one that owes more to Isis and Meshuggah than Morbid Angel or Cannibal Corpse, and this is an album fans of progressive, forward-looking metal will find very satisfying indeed. ~ Phil Freeman
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