Exclaim!'s Top 10 Metal & Hardcore Albums Best of 2016

8. Ulcerate
Shrines of Paralysis
There are two schools of technical death metal: the overdone, showboating shred fest, more fire-breathing Dragonforce than anything legitimately hellish; and the nuanced side that shows its proficiency via on-a-dime time signature changes and song structures. Mercifully, Ulcerate are part of the latter — but that's about the only thing they do mercifully.
Shrines of Paralysis, their fifth LP, is unrelenting, with a suffocating atmosphere and epic, crushing songs. Despite six of its eight tracks hovering around or surpassing the eight-minute mark, their labyrinthine constructions never bore. Undoubtedly their cleanest album from a production standpoint, the quality here accentuates the interplay between the three members. The blast beats — and there are plenty of them — are often haunted by dissonant picking rather than always focusing on the death metal-standard tremolo riffs, so while there's still plenty of that, it's woven in rather than smacked on top.
With new music from Plebeian Grandstand, Deathspell Omega, Gorguts and Ulcerate, it's been a great year for thinking person's metal. These New Zealanders manage to stand apart, though, by taking the technical death metal of those French Canadians and combining it with the blackened darkness from across l'océan.
Bradley Zorgdrager