(9/10) Dark and greyish clouds introduce the Northern hemisphere fall and winter. The musical soundtrack for these dark seasons comes from Cologne, Germany, which is the homebase of black metallers Ultha.
The band is rather new and debuted in 2015. ‘Converging Sins’ was the sophomore album, released in 2016, and two years later it is ‘The Inextricable Wandering’ that marks a new chapter of the wistful powerhouse.
Ultha’s third album is the first one the band releases via Century Media, which can help to strengthen and enlarge an excited fanbase. Ultha plays dark blackened metal that is baleful and bombastic in one. Ralph Schmidt, Andy Rosczyk, Manuel Schaub and Chris Noir crafted songs that are far beyond profane speed attacks. The quintet created another gloomy masterpiece with songs that are sinister compositions. Already the fact that six songs lead to more than an hour of well-executed malicious metal is a true statement.
Although Ultha is mainly located to black metal, the band has a much wider approach. The album is about personal abysses. Fear and the resulting darkness and melancholia are main themes of this album that draws a rather pessimistic picture.
Sticking to the metaphor, it’s the atmospheric ‘The Avarist (Eyes of a Tragedy)’ that is the first brush stroke of this gloomy picture and it’s already an indicatory one. To put a 15 minutes sonic steamroller at the beginning of an album is still unusual, but it works in the bands favor. Next to the oppressive vibe it’s a lot of melancholia that comes with the opener, but also with each of the other five tracks on the album.
The shortest song is the actually a kind of interlude. ‘There is No Love, High Up I the Gallows’ is a wistful and calm instrumental with atmospheric soundscapes. It feels like a moment of final peace in an hostile environment. This moment of hope gets counteracted immediately by the following ‘Cyanide Lips’, which brings despair back into the picture. Not too fast in pace, the song is a destructive wrecking ball that hits your heart and soul. It’s also a good example for the density of Ultha’s sound. It’s massive.
‘We Only Speak in Darkness’ is another atmospheric hymn, loaded with emotional pain and a heavily bleeding heart, followed by the final addition to this greyish world. ‘I’m Afraid to Follow You There’ is the epic closer that incorporates the calmer expression from the previous song for a while, before slowly building up to an harsh black metal beast that lives by its power, intensity and despair. Like with the other five songs it’s the compositional capabilities that lead to an exciting song that accompanies the listener on this trip into eternal darkness. Instead of merely firing on all cylinder, Ultha builds in twists and breaks that intensify the overarching apocalyptic motive of the entire album.
‘The Inextricable Wandering’ is build on two main pillars: musical savvy and emotional depth. The album mirrors the insight of frontman Ralph Schmidt to a big extend and it’s this openness that adds emotion and authenticity to each of the 66 minutes. ‘The Inextricable Wandering’ lives by the aggressiveness of black metal and the darkness of gothic/dark wave. This all together allows Ultha and fans the discovery of a niche that was unknown till now.
- The Avarist (Eyes of a Tragedy)
- With Knives to the Throat and Hell in Your Hands
- There is No Love, High Up I the Gallows
- Cyanide Lips
- We Only Speak in Darkness
- I’m Afraid to Follow You There
Label: Century Media
Genre: Black Metal
Release Date EU: October 5th, 2018