Ultar comes back to haunt us.
Formed in 2011 as Deafknife in Siberia, the band changes its identity after two albums to become the one we know now, which is more equivocally close to the universe of H.P. Lovecraft. In 2022, Gleb Sysoev (vocals, Grima, Second to Sun), Max Sysoev (guitar/keyboards, Grima, Second to Sun), Pavel Dil (bass), Denis Susarev (guitar/keyboards, live for Grima) and Vlad (drums, Solarfall, live for Grima) announced the release of At the Gates of Dusk, their third album.
Midnight Walk and Reminiscence of Necromancy, the first track, immediately shrouds us in this dissonant, aggressive and mysterious mix from which visceral screams escape. The mystical and haunting atmosphere creates an intense contrast with the massive rhythmic basis, then melancholy will gradually take the reins to lead us to Evening Star and its rather Old School approach accompanied by frightening choirs. The heavy atmosphere sometimes reveals softer accents which strengthen the permanent surge of rage and darkness while giving it bewitching contrasted tones which transport us to Antiques and its clean but energetic introduction. We will of course have saturated parts and deep screams on this hazy and intriguing track with Prog roots, then My Rope will come to crush us under its raw darkness and sharp riffs. Leads perfectly fit with the heavy and massive sound interspersed with a few quieter parts wearing desperate tones before bringing rage back. Rats in the Wall begins with some mysterious harmonics before the cloud of darkness weighs the sound down, using uncompromising blast and frantic riffs as well as distant soaring sounds, but violence gives way to quietness again, followed by Through the Golden Gates of Dawn and its soothing introduction. A clean voice shows us the way, quickly joined by screams to make us navigate in this ocean of fury, but also in some hypnotic parts, including this majestic moment with two voices, then Innsmouth announces the end of the album with a dark surge. The song was already revealed by the band, but it takes a whole new dimension when you listen to it after the six previous ones, letting yourself be totally submerged by the occult and mysterious sounds.
Ultar never disappoints, and At the Gates of Dusk is not going to change this habit of excellence the band cultivates since its beginning. The album literally engulfs us under a massive and oppressive sound while leaving a great freedom to vocal parts.