01. Grant Us Death
03. Bloodpainted Salvation
04. The Love Song
08. The Pact
09. My Lord Has Horns
10. When Horror Comes
Some albums travel the middle of the road. They may not be the greatest things you’ve ever heard, but, on the flipside, you certainly wouldn’t call them terrible either. The second full length album from Poland’s Ulcer travels this exact road. While nothing new or innovative is brought to the table, Grant Us Death is an interesting mix of familiar elements will certainly make this album, at the very least, pleasurable for any fans of Entombed, Slayer, or Behemoth. One can tell that Ulcer try to take these elements and throw them together in the hopes that their culmination would result in something unique. Their efforts fall short, unfortunately, as these elements don’t gel all that well together; it’s much like having too many all-stars on one particular sports team. Sure it looks good on paper, but ultimately doesn’t live up to the hype.
The opening track – which also happens to be the title track – starts off with a clean guitar passage that sets a rather ominous mood; appropriate for an opener. but what follows for the majority of the album is a slew of crusty guitar riffs, blasting drum beats, and growling vocal ranges that quickly become predictable and unfortunately uninspiring. Imagine if the vocal barrage of Behemoth and the thrashy soloing prowess of Slayer were working in cahoots with the guitar tones of Entombed – and if they were turned down one notch on the intensity scale and made a little more crusty. Then you would have a rather complete idea of what Grant Us Death sounds like.
The vocal delivery is something in particular that I am very much on the fence about. Certain passages would deliver such power and weight, while others, for lack of a better term, wouldn’t. There were even a couple times where the singer would make it a point to hawk a big loogie and spit. This led me to believe that either the album title was the singer’s cry out for relief from a rather nasty chest cold, or that the vocals take themselves a tad bit too seriously. Further passages on the album, containing overly dramatic screams of torment, made me confident that the latter is more likely. Thankfully, these agonized growls and wads of mucus are not latent throughout the whole album – but their presence on the album at all is what detracts from an otherwise respectable performance.
Grant Us Death’s ultimate downfall is that it drowns too much in its influences; so much so that the majority of the tracks don’t stand out. Up until the seventh track “Devitalized,” everything blends together and feels like you’re listening to the same song over and over again. No matter how good your songwriting chops are, repetition on this scale will always kill the flow of an album. That said, “Devitalized” is indeed a treat; it feels like what the rest of the album should have been. The vocals are catchy but still intense, and while the guitars still have the same overall tone as the rest of the album, there’s a handful of memorable riffs that will make you bob your head quite a bit. There are a few riffs here and there that are pretty cool, but repetition is ultimately the sword that pierces this album’s side.
Don’t get me wrong, Grant Us Death is by no means a bad album, but it’s very much an album whose greatest strength is also its greatest weakness. While its influences are quite audibly apparent, they are too referential to be considered original and ultimately stagnate the album’s potential. Even if it didn’t turn out to be the dominant all-star team we were hoping would take the world of metal by storm, hearing these types of influences meshed together was admittedly enjoyable.