Ulthar – Cosmovore

Pause for a moment, dearly beloved, and check out THAT COVER. See it, feel it, breathe it in. It is Ian Miller at his gothic grotesque best like someone crossed a lurid creepy crawly with a bad trip in a fin de siècle opium den. It’s got one of Lovecraft’s Elder Thing exploding with mouths, beaks, eyes and profane wind instruments, striding through a cancerous landscape full of writhing horror and grandeur. It is also my laptop’s Christmas wallpaper.

Fittingly, then, it is also the cover art for Cosmovore (20 Buck Spin), the debut release by Californian cultists Ulthar. For this is an album full of rich, depraved and monstrous sounds. Much can be said of the album’s huge, monstrous hooks, but the quality of the song-writing is rich and complex, with smooth signature changes and glorious solos. While superficially satanic Death Metal in terms of genre, Cosmovore has subtle but considerable depths in terms of its structures and the way these elements are all drawn together.

Take the title track, which riffs like a screaming cosmic beast, but also paces itself well allowing the core riffs to build up in the listeners’ mind, but still keep it so brutal, you won’t mind. Or ‘Solitarian’, which crushes away furiously, but is also home to some dexterously complex guitar work.

Onwards to ‘Infinite Cold Distance’ which alternates between a wonderful grim core riff and some frenzied blasting from the guitars and drums. ‘Entropy-Atrophy’ echoes Morbid Angel’s more baroque and ornate moments, but remains its own beast in terms of its speed and signature changes. Plus, it even has some good keyboards and sinister modified whispering at the end.

‘Asymmetric Warfare’ has a wonderfully bombastic core hook but concludes with a slower, crushing crescendo. Finally, ‘Dunwich Whore’ (you knew they’d have a song title like that) concludes proceedings with a 13-minute epic which draws together all the album’s styles and flourishes into one almighty headbang.

In summary, this is a dark, nasty, yet gloriously vicious album. It’s a great debut, naturally. But most importantly it matches the grand vision of horror on its cover only too well.

8 / 10

ALEXANDER HAY