USURPER - VISIONS FROM THE GODS... - NECROPOLIS
Celtic Frost wimped out years ago (actually after one EP) and hence the task was left to a couple of ex-The Dead Youth (Red Light Records) members to form a Celtic Frost worship band and slug it out in the underground. So far so good. But a Usurper compilation featuring demo tracks, a cover and a live tune?? All I had to do was do a quick tape trade which would have cost me a blank tape to get these and more on my stereo. - Ali "The Metallian"
USURPER - TWILIGHT DOMINION - EARACHE
Do you remember how old metal LPs used to name their two sides? Usurper's Twilight Dominion recalls the tradition by naming half the songs on the CD Chapter I: Total Metal Lust and half Chapter II: Tales From The Chronovisor. The 80's reminiscence does not stop there.
While Usurper has in the past often correctly been cited for being a carbon copy of Celtic Frost, Twilight Dominion is the band's least Celtic Frost-ish release and nods more towards 80's metal in general. Except Usurper on this album manages to come across more as a new 80's band and less as a band cloning the 80's scene. The material is in fact fresh sounding.
The album starts off with a statement of purpose. Metal Lust is a great song in the best traditions of heavy metal further enhanced by cool chants and bass lines. One can almost see the fists raised in the air. The Struggle Of Tyrants is gratingly heavy and alternates between fast and slow. This song harbours cool chord progressions. She-Devil is faster and wilder and also the song where the vocals sound especially like Cronos did all those years ago. The song slows down to include an acoustic piece reminiscent of Slayer's Seasons In The Abyss (a 90's concession?) and to feature a real metal solo. Lycanthropic has a suitable guitar sound nicer riffing. The song ends with singer Diabolical Slaughter emitting four Celtic Frost-inspired grunts lest anyone doubted the band's allegiance to the Swiss macabre crew given the slight change in tone on this album. The band might also be taking the criticism levelled at them and shoving it back to the public. On this album the vocals are a mix of Celtic Frost and Venom, while the music is reminiscent of those old Razor albums and Exodus' Bonded By Blood the underground so loves. Furthermore a great production and sound is only let down by the weak and mechanical drum sound. Other than that, this CD has been mastered to maim and kill in the name of metal. Interestingly Chapter II begins with the same notes as Chapter I. That is, the first few notes of song seven The Descent sound similar to the ones kicking off the first song Metal Lust. The Descent is a Frost-tinged song, albeit faster. The speedy parts are accompanied by a barrage of the bass guitar and the singer varies the vocals quite a bit. This one has a great pounding feel to it. Vatican Time Machine and The Oath Of Silence are good songs with impressive incorporation of melody to the point of catchiness. The latter track has an effective lead guitar part to boot. The album ends with Perpetual Twilight which is a big song with massive riffs. Twilight Dominion is a frighteningly authentic, headbanging, fist-raising metal album that can only be a boon to the neck brace industry. - Ali "The Metallian"
USURPER - CRYPTOBEAST - EARACHE
As much as one can judge a book by its cover it is clear from Cryptobeast's artwork, emulated vinyl design and band photograph that the album will be a good one. The Chicago metal fanatics have recruited a new singer, fetched drummer Joe Warlord back into the band and, with the aid of producer Neil Kernon, clearly outdone themselves with this release.
The punchy sound is just the foundation for an album that somehow manages to encompass all the qualities of everything from '80s metal to Deicide. In this context, the band's newest CD will probably appeal to every type of heavy metaller. The Celtic Frost influences have mostly been exorcised from the band, but new singer Lawson still treats the listener to a few strategically placed grunts. Otherwise, listen for Deicide, Bolt Thrower (Return Of The Werewolf), Mötley Crüe (the instrumental Ectoplasm begins like Children Of The Best) and '80s heaviness as well as a good dosage of original heavy metal. This is Usurper at its most powerful. - Ali "The Metallian"