Review: Ultha- The Inextricable Wandering

 

Death and doom, with a pinch of grunge and goth 8.5/10Ultha

This is the third studio album released by this heavyweight German black metal band, highly regarded for their uber intense live shows.

Ultha differ from many of their peers within the black metal spectrum by choosing to base their material on the pressures within as opposed to traditional ‘mythological’/ satanic aspects favoured by the genre. For Ultha, the realities of self-doubt, helplessness, failure and struggles are far more ominous than an imaginary situation or provocative anti-religion. Guitarist and vocalist Ralph Schmidt has stated that this album differs from previous release Converging Sins in both sound and style but:  It’s still very much ULTHA, as the others and I balance the ideas until we all agree that a song works for us.”

He has described the album as a concept record about fear:

I had intended to write a record on this topic for a longer time. Over the last few years, the shifts in the world—may it be international politics or the small-town problems around me—all lead back to a fear of fear itself. Fear seems to be the only enemy people still have; a weapon to keep people in line. But I wanted to approach it from a different angle. A lot of (black) metal bands ruminate about fear, evil and hell in a more religious, horror story kind of way—for me, this is not about a higher power, the devil or whatnot, it’s about this hell and evil within myself. Hell is a place you don’t go to. It’s a thing you carry around with you. Each of the six songs ended up being a discourse on a pattern of fear and its consequences I felt or encountered. The whole 66-minute ride morphed into a diary about the general fears I feel, the mess I went through in the last few months, and their result in an omnipresent, heavy feeling of disappointment.”

The album was recorded and mixed in house at the bands own Goblin Sound Studio by Andy Rosczyk (electronics) of the band and Inextricable Wandering was mastered by Michael Schwabe (Einstürzende Neubauten, Phillip Boa and The Voodooclub, Doro) at Monoposto Mastering in Düsseldorf. Both the recording and mastering perfectly captures the atmospheric doom laden intimacy and desperation of the work.

Commencing with their first release from the album The Avarist (Eyes of a Tragedy) which was the first track to be written for the album. It starts slowly, ominously with a sense both emotionally and aurally of Doom (with a capital D). This eerie melancholic introduction transitions into gloriously dark and frenetic riffery which is both melodic and surprisingly accessible. Fear not, it may be catchy but  this is still heavy and the fast, dark and aggressive. The soul crushing  tone is set which continues into the epic With Knives to the Throat and Hell in your Heart with its haunting gothic tinged synthesisers and leading into the atmospheric and unnerving symphonic soundscapes of There Is No Love, High Up In The Gallows. Cyanide lips the second release from the album and it continues our melodic and discordant journey into realms many would fear to tread.

The penultimate track, We Only Speak In Darkness is quite simply a hypnotic creeping gothic masterpiece. Too soon the final offering, the outstanding I’m Afraid To Follow You There lulls us into a false sense of security within this melancholy cocoon of desperation and despair before pummeling you viscerally and emotionally.

The Inextricable Wandering is a beautiful nightmare to which you will want to return time and again.

Track Listing:

The Avarist (Eyes Of A Tragedy) (14:37)
With Knives To The Throat And Hell In Your Heart (10:26)
There Is No Love, High Up In The Gallows (6:30)
Cyanide Lips (9:08)
We Only Speak In Darkness (6:55)
I’m Afraid To Follow You There (18:40)

Catch Ultha Live:

06.10.2018 – Nijmegen (NL) – Doornroosje (Soulcrusher Fest)
19.10.2018 – Gent (BE) – Asgaard
20.10.2018 – Bremen (DE) – Zollkantine
21.10.2018 – Erfurt (DE) – From Hell
22.10.2018 – Vienna (AT) – Viper Room
23.10.2018 – Graz (AT) – Club Q
25.10.2018 – Zagreb (HR) – AKC Attack
26.10.2018 – Winterthur (CH) – Gaswerk
27.10.2018 – Esslingen (DE) – Komma
07.12.2018 – Glauchau (DE) – Alte Spinnerei (X-Mass in Hell Fest)
08.12.2018 – Köln (DE) – Gebäude 9 (Unholy Passion Fest)
14.12.2018 – Dortmund (DE) – Junkyard (Tombstoned Fest)

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