The Vinyl Verdict: Ulcerate, Shrines of Paralysis Limited Edition
Ulcerate are no strangers to extremity. The New Zealanders have been responsible for creating some of the most oppressive death metal out there since their inception in 2000. Their new release, Shrines of Paralysis, journies even deeper as they continue to explore the annals of supremely dark, avant-garde, technical music. The album is an absolute masterpiece. But what about the vinyl release? Let’s explore it from a collector’s perspective.
We’re going to be looking specifically at the limited edition release of Shrines, which is exclusively available on the Relapse online store and Ulcerate’s Bandcamp page. The release retails for $23.99/$26.99 (US), comes in gatefold packaging and features 2xLP 180g vinyl set on translucent gold with black and red splatter. This special edition print is limited to a run of 500. There is also a standard black edition limited to 1,400 and a clear edition limited to just 100. The clear pressing does not seem to be available for purchase, so there’s no real way to tell how one can get their hands on one of those.
As with all Relapse releases, Shrines of Paralysis comes packaged in plastic sheeting that houses the cover and the wax itself. Once unpackaged, the fantastic album artwork is displayed front-and-center in all its glory. Created by Jamie Saint Merat, Ulcerate’s utterly amazing drummer, it’s a deep and thought-provoking piece that is not only visually striking, but it accompanies the music’s bleak and desolate tone. The cover features an image of a rotting human with its skeletal hands stretched over its face in what appears to be its death throes. Using only shades of black and red, the piece manages to remain overwhelmingly human, evoking thoughts of sinew and viscera.
The back cover is engulfed in splattered artwork that calls to mind freshly cut meat, or a bloody river delta. The track list is also displayed prominently on the back as follows:
“Yield to Naught”
“There are no Saviours”
“Shrines of Paralysis”
“Bow to Spite”
“Chasm of Fire”
“End the Hope”
Relapse overall has been a fan of printing splatter vinyl as special edition releases, so it’s no surprise to find that the limited edition release of Shrines of Paralysis follows suit. I’ve been fortunate enough to own a few of these limited edition Relapse releases, some of which I’ve covered in the past, but Shrines of Paralysis is by far one of the most beautifully produced that I’ve come across. It’s one thing to view images of splatter vinyl while still, but it’s another entirely to watch them in action as they spin; it always elicits a tie-dye effect, but there’s something particularly mesmerizing about this one. While this aspect is entirely subjective, it enhanced my overall experience and it’s something that you might find yourself getting lost in as well.
Aside from the standard pops and crackles that come from playing virgin wax, the vinyl makes for a superb listening experience. The sound quality is excellent from start to finish, and you can thank Jamie for that as well. The man has no shortage of talent and is responsible for mastering the album himself. Audiophiles will be pleased to know that Shrines has been mastered specifically for vinyl using 24-bit 44.100 KHz .wav files.
Testing revealed the album’s dynamic range to be around 11, which was pretty standard across all tracks. It’s certainly not great, but it’s a considerable improvement over their past releases which on average clocked in between 5 and 8.
Ulcerate and Relapse have partnered to create a limited edition for Shrines of Paralysis that is amongst the top-tier releases I’ve come across this year. The packaging, presentation, and music all come together to create an incredibly well thought out product that ought to excite fans and collectors alike. If you’re waiting to pull the trigger on this pre-order, wait no longer. I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.