Monday, 19 September 2016

ALBUM REVIEW: Usurpress - "The Regal Tribe"

By: Conor O’Dea

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 23/09/2016
Label: Agonia Records






This album is an album, in a profound, coherent and meaningful way. It is heavy, dripping with dynamic and interesting, organic changes. The sound is warm but never suffocating, and it is brutal both when holding back (“The Mortal Tribes”) and unleashing (“Behold the Forsaken”).  I hate to use the word genre-defying, but whatever fusion of death, doom, stoner and black metal Usurpress have evolved into, it is their voice, it is seamless and mature, and displays no sense of affectation. 


‘The Regal Tribe’ CD//DD//LP track listing:

1). Beneath the Starless Skies
2). The One They Call the Usurpress
3). Across the Dying Plains
4). The Mortal Tribes
5). The Halls of Extinction
6). Throwing the Gift Away
7). Behold the Forsaken
8). On a Bed of Straw
9). The Sin That Is Mine
10). In the Shadow of the New Gods


The Review:

I admittedly approached this album with some trepidation. For starters, Agonia is a label whose roster I can have lukewarm feelings towards: I generally love or can't abide the music they release. Secondly, having followed this album pretty closely because of my unrelenting metal OCD, the tracks the label decided to premiere, at least when I gave them my somewhat divided attention, failed to really impress me. So when The Sludgelord himself demanded what was next on my review duty roster, it was admittedly a slightly perverse choice to have chosen Usurpress'  The Regal Tribe”. Here was an album towards which I'd already formed a tepid opinion, and now I'd decided to dedicate some serious time analyzing an album I was pretty sure wasn't going to be worthy of much note. TL;DR: it's good to be wrong, and this album is much better than good.

The sheer breadth of this album's tonal landscape is a little intimidating at times, and I suspect is one of the things that during my early, wandering listens put me off.   This album is an album, in a profound, coherent and meaningful way. It is heavy, dripping with dynamic and interesting, organic changes. The sound is warm but never suffocating, and it is brutal both when holding back (“The Mortal Tribes”) and unleashing (“Behold the Forsaken”). Pettersson's vocals are both varied and savage, and are the perfect compliment to Sundström's excellent guitar work in particular.

The recording here is excellent; I am listening through studio monitors, and it is a really pleasant (if pummeling) listening experience. I would hazard a guess that the DR (Dynamic Range) is 8/9, and what comes across is rich and intense.

I hate to use the word genre-defying, but whatever fusion of death, doom, stoner and black metal Usurpress have evolved into, it is their voice, it is seamless and mature, and displays no sense of affectation. This is the sound of a superb group of musicians sounding like themselves. Usurpress' maturation even since 2014's “Ordained” is dramatic. Are influences apparent? Sure, but “The Regal Tribe” is very much its own thing, and that thing is very good indeed. Listen to it, buy it. This is great metal.

‘The Regal Tribe’ is available here
Band info: bandcamp|| facebook

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