Ulcer – Heading Below

Heading Below
Released 25th May 2016
Death Metal
Released via Arachnophobia Records

Heading Below’ is the third album from the Polish death metal band Ulcer. Now, I’m quite fond of death metal and some of my favourite bands happen to be from the same country as these guys. That being said however, the Polish death metal scene has its standout bands such as Vader, Behemoth and Decapitated who have inspired several clones, so hopefully this is not another one of those…

Well, for those expecting to hear some Behemoth-style blackened death metal, you won’t find anything like that here. Instead, what you get is some good old school death metal, which seems to be inspired by Swedish death metal, particularly Dismember and Entombed. One thing that’s fairly unusual about Ulcer is that they have two vocalists, a shouter named D. a.k.a Sonnelion (also in the black metal bands Oremus and Blaze of Perdition) and a growler called Angelfuck from the technical death metal band Deivos.

Most of the songs are either slow or mid-paced, not super technical but gritty, coarse-sounding, and mostly guitar-driven death metal. The slower tracks tend to drag on a bit, with the guitars and drums just plodding along, dragging the listener through a deep, dark forest of mediocrity. Luckily there’s a handful of more energetic and more brutal-sounding tunes such as Sights to See and Miscarriage’s Lullaby to keep you on your toes. The two different vocal styles seem to work surprisingly well together, almost as though they were meant to tell two sides of a story with the second voice providing the additional commentary as demonstrated by tracks such as You Called, We Came.

Overall, ‘Heading Below’ is an example of pretty good but ultimately very average death metal. I don’t hate it, in fact as a far as the genre goes it’s actually one of the better death metal albums that I’ve heard recently. It just doesn’t really offer anything new or awe-inspiring.

Iza Raittila

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