German Black Metal band, Ultha differ from many of their contemporaries within the black metal continuum by choosing not to create spectrum with arcane, misanthropic, mythical or satanic aspects favored by the genre. For Ultha, fear, paranoia, self-doubt, vulnerability, failure and struggles are far stronger to explore the inner self and the madness it behold.
Less than two years after of their second full-length “Converging Sins” (Vendetta Records, 2016), Ultha’s new offering is yet another concept record of deeply personal content, this time reflects upon the connection between human fear and disappointment in its various forms. It was written over the course of six months and recorded and mixed under the supervision of Andy Rosczyk at his Goblin Sound Studio (Cologne). The record was mastered by Michael Schwabe at Monoposto Mastering GmbH (Düsseldorf) who has done duties for few renowned avant-garde acts as Philipp Boa and The Voodooclub. “The Inextricable Wandering” was released on 2018; in collaboration with Century Media Records in various formats as gatefold double LP, digipack CD and digital, as well as a self released tape version.
In this album of six tracks with a running time of over one hour and eight minutes, Ultha created a darker and dismal sphere of their own which will only be revealed upon patient and repeated exposure because of the impressive length of few tracks.
Guitarist and vocalist Ralph Schmidt has stated, “This album differs from previous release Converging Sins in both sound and style but: It’s still very much Ultha, as the others and I balance the ideas until we all agree that a song works for us.”
He also described the album as a concept record about fear: “I had intended to write a record on this topic for a longer time. Over the last few years, the shifts in the world—may it be international politics or the small-town problems around me—all lead back to a fear of fear itself. Fear seems to be the only enemy people still have; a weapon to keep people in line. But I wanted to approach it from a different angle. A lot of (black) metal bands ruminate about fear, evil and hell in a more religious, horror story kind of way—for me, this is not about a higher power, the devil or whatnot, it’s about this hell and evil within myself. Hell is a place you don’t go to. It’s a thing you carry around with you. Each of the six songs ended up being a discourse on a pattern of fear and its consequences I felt or encountered. The whole 68-minute ride morphed into a diary about the general fears I feel, the mess I went through in the last few months, and their result in an omnipresent, heavy feeling of disappointment”.
‘The Avarist (Eyes Of A Tragedy)’, is a good representative of what the band tried to combine on this record: mixing low end doom heaviness, black metal’s frenzy, the melody work of dark wave/post punk brought together by an open, authentic and heavy sound, close to what we sound like live.”
At the initiation, ‘The Avarist (Eyes Of A Tragedy)’ starts slowly, gloomily with a sense of aural doom with melancholic transitions into dark and frenetic riffery. It’s captivating and enticing but still heavy, dark and destructive. ‘With Knives to the Throat and Hell in your Heart’ is like transcending the essence of Mgła in another rendition where lingering synthesizers and repetitive hypnotizing rhythms leading into the atmospheric and unnerving symphonic soundscapes.
While the next track continues as a melodious and dissonant journey, ‘Cyanide Lips’ is a journey towards uncharted realms offering total isolation. The penultimate track, ‘We Only Speak In Darkness’ is a creeping masterpiece, gradually builds up with ambient passages of something dark and twisted brooding, an enthralling reminiscent of late period Celtic Frost, which established the creative imagination and songcrafting strength of Ultha.
Too soon the final offering, ‘I’m Afraid To Follow You There’ is an experience, where sense of paranoia, hopelessness, desperation and despair will evoke throughout its 18 minute length, which will left you abandoned viscerally and emotionally; an atmospheric ode to Blut Aus North, Deathspell Omega and Dodecahedron to finish off this record.
By not following the usual ideological tradition, lyrical concepts and theatricals belongs to black metal artistry, Ultha created an essence and ideals of their own and in the third full length Ultha established its astounding vision and inventiveness in songwriting and musicianship thus moving forward towards dreadful and dark paths of self exploration. “The Inextricable Wandering” is an absorbing nightmare to which you will want to return time and again and within its impenetrable darkness the hell and evil within inner self will be exposed. (Rocky)