Everything about this album is gnarly, the artwork, the sound, the vocals, the drums, the guitar tone, the thundering bass; it has that grisly attitude of a grotesquely efficient death metal album yet it is tinged with the essence of something else too. All the band members of this Stateside act are active in other acts and as a three piece they create a punishing bloodcurdling set of songs that starts with the title track. The chain sawing guitar sound is nothing new as we all know and the claustrophobic production is well documented also but what this band throws into their song writing mix is off kilter riffs and the occasional skirting with blackened textures and other genres, especially when the song ditches the speed in favour of a slow permeating double bass infestation with some of the deepest most gruesome vocals you’re likely to hear.
“Solitarian” returns to maniacal tempos as the blasting gives way to a shrieking vocal delivery that also has that lingering drag for added torturous effect. The switching in the riffs is pin-point but done momentarily before returning to the ferocious speed which has the chaotic violence one would associate with the blackened hardcore scene. “Assymetric Warfare” is cataclysmically destructive, its opening frenzied barrage has a sense of rabidly lashing out before a double kick breezes in to calm things even if it is only for a brief instant. That calming reappears and is extended producing a doom death aura that is utterly ghastly, in a good way I might add, before the speed is strengthened again. It is the speed of this album that leaves you winded, it is assiduously homicidal and brutal as the album ends with the magnificent “Dunwich Whore” clocking over 13 minutes.
Writing engaging songs over 13 minutes is not easy, writing extreme metal songs over this duration is incredibly difficult but Ulthar have produced an epic composition that is dramatic, theatrical yet retains the hallmarks of their sonic bloodthirstiness as it begins with atmospheric effects and synths creating an eerie mood that lead into a distraught riff and funereal pace accompanied by a low and slow double bass infusion, which I particularly liked, that sets the foundation of the track. With each passing moment there is an empowering escalation in tension, as the drums gather in impetus and the riffing becomes more forceful and fouler leading into the malicious blackened riff break. The speed surge is inevitable and with that the song becomes frantic, bedlam even yet highly measured as it contorts and grimaces via various tempo shifts as waves of blasting havoc lead up to yet another awesome riff break. The vocals are inhuman, having a beastly quality that seemingly crawls out of the song like a slithering leviathan; it is hard to believe that someone’s larynx is actually making that noise. With each passing second this track offers the listener avenues of exploration, the guitar keeps on revealing new hooks, the drums persist in punching out the rhythms and the bass is utterly dread laden and blankets not only this song but the whole album in a suffocating layer.
Ulthar will take you into the very recesses of your nightmares, their music is terrifying, it equates to pulverising annihilation.
(9/10 Martin Harris)