Ulthar melds black and death metal in sophomore album

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Jacob Baker, Columnist

After releasing their impressive debut “Cosmovore” on 20 Buck Spin, the H.P. Lovecraft inspired extreme metal band out of Oakland, Ulthar, came back with a bigger, better and more vicious sophomore record in “Providence.” 

Ulthar’s 2018 album “Cosmovore” tended to aid more on the side of the death metal genre with some black and speed metal aspects woven throughout. “Cosmovore” proved to be a noteworthy debut album within the extreme metal underground despite its ruff edges. This time around, Ulthar doesn’t shy away from melding black and death metal together to make one great blackened death metal record in “Providence.” 

“Providence” doesn’t by any means reinvent the wheel of the blackened death metal subgenre, but Ulthar cleans up the ruff edges of “Cosmovore” and creates a more focused project. 

For each section that can be described as black metal, there is also a section that leans more towards death metal, never leaning too much into one genre. The black metal aspects found in the vocals and atmospherics make “Providence” very viscous and sinister, while the death metal aspects found in the guitars and drums make the project equally thick and monstrous. 

All aspects come together nicely to compliment the themes of H.P. Lovecraft’s otherworldly horror, written between 1917-1935.

The album opens up at breakneck speed on the track “Churn.” It’s a good fast paced track, but the second track “Undying Spear” would serve as a better intro. “Undying Spear” opens up with some eerie atmospherics behind a beautiful classical guitar solo. After that, all hell breaks loose as it serves as a perfect foreshadowing of the heights Ulthar takes their blackened death metal on “Providence.” 

One of the biggest takeaways from “Providence” is how well written the record actually turns out to be. The riffs are very memorable, thorough, and immaculately timed. The drum work is really good and the vocals may as well be the best part of the record. The vocals blend the eerie screams of black metal, and on the other hand, when Ulthar leans into death metal vocals, the vocals reek of horror and living monstrosities. 

The track really hits its stride on the track “Through Downward Dynasties” and doesn’t let up until the end. During that five track run to end the album, other songs that really define the greatness of the record are “Cudgel” and the outro track “Humanoid Knot.” 

Ulthar’s sophomore record further adds to the notable era extreme metal is currently in through its ferocious vocals, great drums and merciless guitar riffs. “Providence” perfectly showcases how well Ulthar executes blending black metal in their vocals with death metal in their production. “Providence” also shows the immense potential the Bay Area metal outfit has going forward with their razor sharp musicianship and production.