Ulthar – Providence
20 Buck Spin
After the debut and well-deserved praise of their 2018 release Cosmovore, Providence ups the ante and solidifies Ulthar as a force of brutality to be reckoned with.
Swirling with a healthy mix of blackened death metal, Ulthar doesn’t just stop there: mingling with doom, thrash, and some psychedelic ambiance crafted seamlessly together forms an incredibly devastating album which makes the listener ask, “How can Ulthar think of this stuff?”
The opening song Churn hits the listener with full-force and keeps itself just around two-minutes, establishing the sound and feel of the music Ultar provides. Yet within the mere first moments of the second track, Undying Spear, everything previously listened to is turned on its head as a haunting ambient guitar medley plays before blasting the listener back into the chaos. And is it ever beautiful chaos.
Both vocalists, Steve Peacock and Shelby Lermo trade between two screaming styles which compliment each other well – similar to a call and response from early blues music. The riffage between the two is simply outstanding. The unison between both guitar and bass throughout most songs keeps the sound sharp and subtly emphasizes the complexity of the music. With so many variations in each song, the synchronization of instruments keeps the listener anticipating Ulthar’s next transition in the song or are made to hear the emphasis the musicians want to put on a particular riff. The bass and guitar will subtly rise and fall in the mix when there’s a transition to be listened to. It’s a clever way to make the listener focus on something distinctly.
Naturally, drummer Justin Ennis absolutely pounds the hell out of the kit. Keeping up with the variety of music styles throughout the album, one could assume they had a different drummer on different tracks. In a song like Through Downward Dynasties, the variations and subtle fills from Ennis are outstanding and really elevate an already crushing song.
One of the more noticeable things about the album is its production. Not only does it feel good, but the songs sound great. It’s not under produced like black metal or can be compared to muddy death metal. Nor is the album overly produced like some thrash or death albums. The sound of Providence is still havoc, but smart production makes it both clear and concise. As a result, the listener can appreciate the influences which came before the band while still absorbing something new and fresh from the genre(s).
Ulthar’s Providence is a complete package for anyone into the extreme. Providence comes with weight, brilliant songwriting, and production that should be envied. An absolutely solid second album by the Oakland, California band.
With newly established bands like Spirit Adrift and Tomb Mold, adding Ulthar to the mix, 20 Buck Spin have really solidified themselves as the go-to indie label for guaranteed up and coming bands in the metal scene.