Ulthar Credit: Aloysius V. Cummings

The cover art for Cosmovore, the latest album from Oakland metal trio Ulthar, is immediately arresting: it’s an illustration of a group of plantlike monstrosities that each appear to be vomiting nervous systems made of fibrous bundles and gaping maws. It’s from a work called The Mountains of Madness 3 by fantasy artist Ian Miller, who got his start illustrating the covers of paperbacks by horror author and noted racist H.P. Lovecraft—though more people might be familiar with his contributions to the 1988 Games Workshop sourcebook Realm of Chaos (a title Bolt Thrower borrowed for the album they released the following year). Ulthar also pulled their band name from a Lovecraft story, and they expertly utilize the straight-ahead bludgeoning style perfected by Bolt Thrower as part of their multifaceted approach to death metal. The title track of Cosmovore (and what’s a cosmovore if not a “World Eater” on a grander scale?) kicks off with a thrashy riff from guitarist Shelby Lermo that’s soon joined by a flurry of blastbeats from drummer Justin Ennis, formerly of Tombs and Mutilation Rites—who then nimbly shifts into a punishing groove flanked by ominous tremolo effects. The guttural vocals mirror the drumming as they shift from percussive howls to prolonged screams. It’s a tiny microcosm of extreme metal, mixing black, death, grind, and thrash in the space of a dizzying 30 seconds. Ulthar maintain this concise inventiveness throughout the rest of the song, and indeed the rest of the album—making it one of the most exciting death-metal releases in recent memory.   v