Ulthar went on tour supporting their debut album from last year.
Date: Saturday, April 20, 2019
Place: Subterranean (2011 W. North Ave.; Chicago, Illinois 60647)
Ticket price: $10.74 after service fee ($8 general admission)
It was actually a nice night out with temperatures in the 50s, which was one of the few days Chicago got into decent weather this year. The weather in the city had sucked going back to like last November. The show was dirt cheap and cost about the same as a burrito bowl at Chipotle so it was hard to pass up.
I’ve been to Subterranean a few times but this show was on the ground level in a much smaller area. There were maybe 40-50 people total there. There was some other show taking place in the main area upstairs with a band called Camp Cope. Totally not metal.
Ulthar are from Oakland, California. They released their first album called “Cosmovore” last November on 20 Buck Spin. The album is seriously heavy, being a mix of death and black metal with some thrash elements thrown in. 20 Buck Spin is an awesome label and puts out a variety of metal bands like Khemmis, Tomb Mold and Spirit Adrift. I knew nothing about Ulthar before the album released but what drew me to it was the cover. It’s some trippy stuff with an out of control monstrous plant on an orange background. It was done by artist Ian Miller for the cover of “At the Mountains of Madness” by H.P. Lovecraft. I thought the album was great. Their tour started March 22 and crammed a lot of dates across a month. I didn’t want to miss the chance seeing them live.
All the supporting acts were local Chicago bands. I had not heard of any of them before the show so it was cool to discover some new music. The show started at 9 p.m.
Ikaray opened the show. I missed most of their set but did catch the last two songs. They play doom metal. They’re making a new album that I think is called “No Borders.” They closed the set with the album’s title track and it sounded great. I’m definitely going to keep them on the radar because I liked the 10 minutes or so that I was able to hear live.
Barren Heir played next. They were good. There’s three guys in the band. It leaned more towards lengthier instrumental songs mixed in with some yelled vocals. I’m not sure how many songs they played since it blended together a lot. One of the microphones wasn’t working properly so you couldn’t hear what the singer was saying. I liked them. Definitely all around solid musicians. They played between 30-40 minutes.
Vukari were seriously awesome. They maybe played between 35-45 minutes. There’s four guys in the group. They play what the band describes as atmospheric black metal. I thought they were fantastic. I think they played around six songs. Again, I don’t know the band so it was hard to tell. They had some strong riffs in the songs. Some parts got heavier with the faster drumming and riffing while others were more mellow. The drumming was excellent. The singer fit the songs well and had a good presence. The guitar playing was also real good. Everything came together to create some great music. I definitely want to see Vukari again. My initial impressions were that they absolutely killed. I’m glad I discovered them through this show.
There was about a 20-25 minute break in between each set. They had a very small merch area on the side of the room that was basically seating with tables probably used for the bar near the back.
Ulthar crushed. They were relentless. They had played earlier in the day at the NYDM Spring Bash in Milwaukee, Wisconsin so they were doing double duty. The drumming was like a machine. He played so methodically, like it was no big deal he was killing that hard. I’m not super familiar with whatever genre you would put the band under but they were so great. I really liked the vocals. The band has dual vocals and would alternative during songs. Ulthar put on a heavy set from start to finish.
They played most of the Cosmovore album. None of the band members said a single word to the crowd before or after the set. After it was over they just walked away. Ulthar finished around 12:30 a.m. They did around 35-40 minutes and packed a lot of energy into that time. Definitely a cool band to see live.