New Zealand progressive death metal band Ulcerate carved out a striking career path, producing one of the most distinctive bodies of work in the genre while remaining staunchly independent and self-reliant. Formed in Auckland in 2000 by drummer Jamie Saint Merat and guitarist Michael Hoggard, the band went through a revolving door of additional players and vocalists before bassist/vocalist Paul Kelland became their permanent third member for the release of their second album.
Initially influenced by Gorguts, Immolation, and Cryptopsy -- particularly in those bands' use of dissonance -- Ulcerate developed in the relative isolation of New Zealand's extreme metal scene, far from the mainstream. They initially recorded two well-received demos, which were compiled in 2006 by Deepsend Records under the title The Coming of Genocide. Their debut studio album proper, 2007's Of Fracture and Failure, was released by the Dutch label Neurotic Records, and featured the high-pitched, shrieking, hardcore-style vocals of Ben Read, who was with the band for only that one album before they recruited Kelland, who took them back to a deeper, more typically "death metal" sound. The band gradually built their profile through word of mouth, low-key touring, and signing bigger and better record deals. Their "genre-defining" second album, 2009's Everything Is Fire, and its 2011 follow-up, The Destroyers of All, came out on highly respected U.S. label Willowtip, with 2013's Vermis and 2016's Shrines of Paralysis through extreme metal giant Relapse.
Almost from the beginning, the band's sound was fully-formed: a maelstrom of abrasive, dissonant art-metal guitars, thunderous blastbeats, and vocal roars evoking an all-encompassing sense of crushing dread, which they went on to further refine on subsequent releases. Every album was self-produced by Saint Merat at Auckland's MCA studios, the music benefiting greatly from his deliberately raw production. ~ John D. Buchanan