Review Summary: Defying simple genre definition, Usurpress force their way to supremacy.
Without completely yielding to words like “unique”, “revolutionary” or “innovative” I find myself in a predicament of describing this melded foray of other-worldly grandiosity. At face value, Usurpress is all of those things. With four full-lengths on shelves the larger metal community can begin to appreciate the sheer musical ability of this Uppsala-based trio. Interregnum
is a sure highlight, maintaining a certain crescendo in quality shown from each album’s natural progression, while exciting their listeners beyond the point of the band’s debut back in 2012. Interregnum
defines what it is to be an extreme metal album in 2018. Combining equal parts death metal, sludge, black metal, progressive metal, goth, jazz fusion and even to certain extents crusting styled doom and while I tried to make a point of avoiding flat out hyperbole in my last few reviews I’m afraid I’m going to have to resort to all sorts of other-worldly adjectives in order to convey exactly how god-tier Usurpress have become circa 2018. Let’s face it if it’s true, it’s far from hyperbole.
At times, Usurpress makes you feel like you’re listening to a natural force of a wave. You appreciate the beauty of the water rolling towards you, revelling as the volume increases. Suddenly dual emotions of dread and appreciation hit you as you realise the unstoppable nature of what’s coming. It’s beautiful, surreal, and passive but if left to run its natural course the wave will hit you at full force, juxtaposed with each and every element that fights against its own existence. Interregnum
melds each element into the proverbial wave and rolls full-force into the listener. It’s both beautiful and scary just how this Swedish three-piece make the best of their contrasting sides – over and over again.
opens strongly with “A Place In The Pantheon” harkeningback to the band’s previous records with unspoken immediacy. For listeners experiencing their first tastes of what Usurpress has to offer, the mellow progressive tones that swelter on the instantly created atmospherics manage to simply showcase just how well these guys can blow away the listener… without blowing away them away.When most death metal bands open a record, it’s generally full-forced, oppressive and bullying. Instead “A Place In The Pantheon” invites Usurpress’ listeners in almost echoing stylistics choices found in any Dream Theater song. It’s an excellent lead in, before the deathly sludge-d riffs of the album’s defining (albeit short) title track. It’s clear at this point that Interregnum
will not be the easiest of albums to digest, but digest you must if you are to appreciate the sheer magnitude of quality extreme metal on offer.
By now you must have realised I have a decent amount of respect for the quality of the album simply because I’m happy to describe what it sounds like in umbrella terms. Interregnum
however fails to simply fit into specific descriptions easily as it’s a forward thinking adaptation of contrasting elements put together in the best possible ways. Don’t let the mention of jazz put you off listening; Usurpress’ 2018 effort is as much a sludge fest as it is a progressive death metal affair. The album’s “jazzier” elements are thrown in tastefully; reinforcing these Swede’s as accomplished musicians and ultimately, showcase an album worthy of an early “album of the year” accolade. With so much on offer, finding highlights becomes a sonic quest. While the opener and title track both set the mood for the rest of the record while being at two different ends of the spectrum it’s hard to imagine Interregnum
as an album built on filler, relying on a few tracks to lift the record to dizzying heights. Rather, Interregnum
is filled to the brim with quality tracks ranging in death metal tidings, sludge filled ecstasy, progressive blending of Usurpress’ signature jazz sounds. Mind boggling to list and pure enjoyment to behold, it seems that Interregnum
shows a band that hit its stride from the debut. Three releases later Usurpress endeavour to build momentum, never slumping into a casual stride of placation in their song-writing. With tracks like, “Late In The 11th Hour” taking accessible sensibilities and twisting them into a monster. If long-time fans are worried about a shift in Usurpress’ sound, rest assured that’s a natural progression, focusing instead of experimenting – tightening the band’s core sounds.
Overall, Usurpress has both come a long way and not very far at all. The music has become more focused over the course of the other three releases. Now four releases down the track with Interregnum
and Usurpress tease at the very idea of releasing their masterstroke. The only issue with that statement is that Usurpress hasn’t identified a veritable peak in their music. Scarily, the music has the utmost potential to top the likes of Interregnum
over and over again.