Although ULTHA already announced their second album for end of 2016, it was released all of a sudden. No big countdown, no leaked details in advance. That’s one thing I really like about the band: No big words, the deeds speak for themself. Nevertheless I was quite surprised about the release of “Converging Sins” - an had to immediately download the record via bandcamp.
Since both the debut “Pain Cleanses Every Doubt” and the “Dismal Ruins” were absolute killers, it is no wonder that the second full-length of this band is phantastic as well. However I was still overwhelmed by the developement ULTHA made from their previous releases - admitting that I don’t know their common split EP with Morast, which contains cover-songs of Bathoryonly. But nevermind that little tribute and let’s concentrate on the newvery own material of ULTHA.
In the first impression there is no such killer riffing on “Converging Sins” like the opening theme of “Crystalline Pyre” offered. But on the other hand there are many small details that make this new album outstanding. If you a looking for another hit like the named song from the first album, just listen to “Fear Lights The Path”. It is an almost 17 minutes long proto-song, riding on reduced, monotonous riffing, interlacing a great melody that sticks to the ear. Furthermore the exchange of high pitched vocals and harsh shouts adds variety to the track as well as the slowed down passages that are supported by epical keyboards.
But that’s just the one logical continuation of “Pain Cleanes Every Doubt” on “Converging Sins”. The rest is an incredible development in the style of ULTHA that makes them outstanding within the German black metal scene. At first you might think “You Will Learn About Loss” sounds like another repetitive proto-band, imagine early Blut Aus Nord. But the addition of keyboards and choral vocals change the whole attitude more towards a really simplified The Ruins Of Beverast number.
Or the epic opener “The Night Took Her Right Before My Eyes” combines the whole development of ULTHA over a running time of almost 18 minutes. Gloomy guitars that evolve further and further, climaxing with shoegaze-eske soundscapes, just to burst into blastbeats and grimm riffing. Monotonous instrumentation on the traditional guitar, bass, drums trio meets epical keyboards, that add some hopeful atmosphere. The vocals beginn calmly whispered and end in the typical alternation of high pitched, hysterical screams and hatefull shouts that are well known from ULTHA. Throughout the song the individual musical themes are repeated and varied, creating memorability and develope the track over the whole running time.
“Mirrows In A Black Room” is the most impressive song on this album. This number is totally atypical for the band. But this rude shear in style is the best example of how ULTHA evolved as well. It starts calm, fragile. With Post-Punk styled guitars that might have fit more to Planks, the bleached old band from guitar-player Ralph. Suddenly phantastic femal vocals set in. They were contributed by Rachel Davies from Esben And The Witch and add incredible value to the song. The interaction between female vocals and harsh screams creates just a phenomenal atmosphere. The developmend of the song itself just defies description.
In the mixture of reduced, repetitive riffs, epical soundscapes and unconventional ideas, ULTHA did an incredible job. Their second album just put them on another level. Showing how the band evolved on the one hand and creating a versatile and intense album on the other. I had a lot and almost no expectations in “Coverging Sins”. But ULTHA just blew me away with a real masterpiece. Highly recommended to all fans of open-minded black metal that looks beyond the edge of the table!