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Usurpress: Interregnum

I've always had a soft spot for Usurpress; I reviewed their debut album on this site and tracked their progression ever since. They've always been a solid death metal band with ambitions to push the boundaries wherever possible. With this album, the band takes things further than ever. I'm not talking about an attempt to create something more aggressive or extreme. This is something different, a blend of hard rock, prog, and death metal.

Before going further, I need to point out that there are two new people in the band, Stefan Hildman, a jazz-fusion drummer, and Erick Sundström, an ambient / trance keyboardist. As these two began playing with the Usurpress's core members, were magical. Hildman's drums added a welcome rhythmic complexity to everything while Sundström keyboards opened up new musical vistas. From there, the band began exploring death metal, its sound, style, and purpose. As they pulled apart expectations, they began adding components of hard rock, prog rock, and other styles, if only to see what they could do with it all. The result is a good mix of styles, one that maintains a firm hold in solid death metal.

If you're worried that these new additions changed Usurpress's core sound, you're partly right. Usurpress isn't changing as much as Opeth, but there are clear signs of change. What I hear is a death metal band mixing greater ambition and complexity into their sound-and with good results. It won't please every fan, but this is definitely something worth checking out.

The band knows they're pushing boundaries, but that's what they want. They still define themselves as a death metal band, but they aren't shy about adding in multiple components from other styles. There are even some clean vocals on this one. For those who worry about bands like this getting soft, let me reassure you: Usurpress sounds as heavy as ever. Things are a little slower and a little calmer, but the experiment generally pays off. For those curious enough to listen, I recommend "Ships of Black Glasss," easily one of the most successful compositions on the album. "Late in the 11th Hour" was good, too.

Track Listing:
1. A Place in the Pantheon
2. Interregnum
3. In Books Without Pages
4. Late in the 11th Hour
5. Ships of Black Glass (i: Shards, ii: Black Echo)
6. The Iron Gates are Melting
7. The Vagrant Harlot

Added: February 10th 2018
Reviewer: Carl Sederholm
Score:
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Language: english

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