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Friday 12 June 2020

Reviews: Ulthar, Pale Divine, Kult Mogil, Soulthern (Rich & Paul H)

Ulthar: Providence (20 Buck Spin) [Rich Oliver]

I’m of the opinion that death metal should sound nasty. There is a great deal of death metal out there which is stunningly performed and produced but just lacks that dirty, grimy feel that to me is an integral part of the genre. Ulthar are a contemporary death metal band who definitely follow the same aesthetics to death metal as me when it comes to how it sounds as Providence, the second album from the Californian band, is monumentally filthy. The band have an interesting sound in that they have the murk and dirt of old school death metal mixed with the technical and progressive tendencies of bands such as Voivod and Gorguts mixed with a blackened serrated edge. There is a heavy use of dissonance throughout with the riffs taking many twists and turns going from brutal caveman simplicity one minute to technical dissonant wizardry the next.

This approach is highly effective and used to great effect in songs such as clobbering opener Churn and the fantastic Through Downward Dynasties. My favourites were the songs which veered more into blackened territory such as the ever shifting Furnace Hibernation and the melodic yet blackened ferocity of Undying Spears which also has a fantastic acoustic intro which catches you off guard. Ulthar have a fantastic album with Providence. It covers a lot of bases and juggles a lot of different sounds and influences yet manages to combine these into a very cohesive, very violent and very ugly sounding album. These guys are definitely gonna be a band to keep an eye on in the metal underground. 8/10

Pale Divine: Consequence Of Time (Cruz Del Sur Music) [Paul Hutchings]

I was rather enamoured by Pale Divine’s self-titled record that they released in December 2018. The Glen Mills, Pensylvannia outfit are back with album number six and once more the crushing riffs, fuzzy distortion and Sabbath influences are all present and correct. Most exciting, the addition of guitarist and vocalist Dana Ortt who brings not only more guitar but takes lead vocals for much of the album. The band are reaching quarter of a century and their experience is evident from the start with Tyrants & Pawns once more making the earth rumble thanks to the thunderous bass of Ron McGinnis.

With the additional guitar the sound is beefed up and the interplay between Ortt and Greg Diener offers extended duels and solos that add a psychedelic edge to proceedings. Phantasmagoria is sadly not a cover of the Annihilator thrasher but a meandering, gothic echoing, fuzzed up track which is as heavy as a heard of megalodon. Ortt’s high pitched vocals are at times effeminate but effective and combined with Diener’s harmonies to good effect. Centre piece to the release is the ten-minute title track that reeks of Sabbath with it’s crunching Iommi-esque riff kicking off proceedings. Full of atmosphere and retrospective feeling, this sixth album is another nod to the past but fresh enough to make it a worthy addition to the band’s burgeoning collection. 7/10

Kult Mogil: Torn Away The Remains Of Dasein (Pagan Records) [Rich Oliver]

Torn Away The Remains Of Dasein is the second album from Polish death metal band Kult Mogil. It is their first album with a new line up and sees the band going in ‘a more classic death metal sound, if not in an old-school 90s style’ and ‘going back to the roots of death metal even more than before’. Having not heard any of the bands previous material I can’t say how this album compares but it is definitely reminiscent of mid to late 90’s death metal with lots of face ripping ferocity and a generally frantic pace. The band aren’t afraid to slow the pace at times with some sections that are far more on the atmospheric side in contrast with the all out aggression. A good example of this is the song White Death Implosion which starts in explosively violent fashion but has a very atmospheric mid section before returning to the violence and carnage. The albums weakness is the lack of memorable riffs which really affecting this albums staying power though there are some absolutely ripping guitar solos throughout the album. Kult Mogil have a solid death metal album here. It is full of energy and intensity but just lacks in the riffs department. A solid if unremarkable piece of death metal. 6/10

Soulthern: Riding To The End (Self Released) [Paul Hutchings]

Back in 2015 the demo for a Brazilian four-piece called Soulthern was reviewed by Matt. He rated it highly, a 7/10 and noted that the tinny production gave it an authenticity which placed it slap in the middle of the era it was emulating – the 1980s NWOBHM. Roll forward five years and we have an album from presumably the same band. I say presumably, because there is nothing to confirm it is the same outfit, not even a picture of the four-bullet belt clad members of the band. The internet provided a blank. Not one hit. So, taking it on face value, I’ve assumed this is the album that followed that demo/EP. I haven’t heard that release but it’s not hard to imagine what it sounded like. 

Riding To The End is an average and uninspiring record. Nine tracks competently played, all very much old school prototype power/thrash metal style. Duel guitar work ala Iron Maiden and Helloween, high speed patterns and all marred by a screeching vocal delivery which sounds like the horrible mutated love child of Michael Kiske and King Diamond. Much as Matt may have rated it in 2015, the improvements appear miniscule and with many old school bands from that era making solid new albums, this is something that pales into insignificance by comparison. 4/10

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