USURPER "Lords of the Permafrost"
Title: Lords of the Permafrost
Label: Soulseller Records
Release date: March 22, 2019
Format reviewed: VBR mp3 promo
I became aware of Chicago’s USURPER in the mid 1990s, at the time of release of their debut album, “Diabolosis…” (1995), an effort well received by fans. The band went on to release a couple of splits, an EP, and in 1999, their sophomore full-length effort, “Skeletal Season”, retaining their blackened thrash metal style in the process. After releasing two additional albums in the new millennium, “ Necronemesis” (2000) and “Twilight Dominion” (2003), to somewhat mixed reviews, the band went thru a minor change in their original line up. With a new lead vocalist on board, the band released “Cryptobeast” in 2005 and called it quit after the support tour for the album ended.
After a fourteen years hiatus, USURPER returns with a new album, “Lords of the Permafrost” set to be released on March 22nd 2019, via Soulseller Records. In the band’s own words: "After a 14-year hiatus, Usurper are proud to return with our sixth full length album entitled, ‘Lords of the Permafrost‘. Back when we formed in 1993, we had the goal to create heavy, memorable songs with the anthemic quality of traditional Heavy Metal, combined with the heaviness of death metal, the fury of thrash metal, the atmosphere of black metal and the straight-forward, ass-kicking of 70's Hard Rock.... 25 years later, we feel we have stayed true to our original objective and have recorded the quintessential Usurper album. Lyrically these songs explore topics such as monster folklore, the paranormal and other obscure tales, all while being delivered with a lethal dose of Heavy Metal bravado. Usurper never have, and never will chase trends. We have only returned to bring our next chapter of metal to the Worldwide Warriors of Iron and Rust, and kick maximum ass!"
Aside from the founding members, Joe Apocalyptic Warlord (drums) and Rick Scythe (guitars/vocals), “Cryptobeast” era lead vocalist Danny Tyrantor Lawson, returns to the fold. The band co-opted bassist Scott Maelstrom in 2015, to complete the new lineup.
“Lords of the Permafrost” uses the band’s previous album as a base upon which they build new compositional ideas, incorporating NWOBHM influences into the new songs’ structures. Aside from the traditional heavy metal affiliations, the listener could also hear slight death ‘n’ roll attributes, all of it well incorporated into the expected black/thrash formula. While the previous album paved the way for a more diverse lyrical palette, “Lords of the Permafrost” further delves into the mythical and folktale associated lyrics. Sound wise we find an absolutely marauding wall of guitar riffs, courtesy of Rick Scythe, impeccably layered over very precise drumming. Speaking of drumming: Apocalyptic Warlord lays an impressive spread of mighty great fills and patterns alongside all eight tracks on the album. Now a familiar fixture in USURPER’s sound, Tyrantor delivers lyric-legible, devastating growls, properly accented by blood-curdling screams, as deemed necessary. Ugh! Musically, a chilling arctic cold vibe envelopes the listeners, preamble by the album’s cover art and title, an early warning to what will be unveiled.
USURPER’s “Lords of the Permafrost” is an undiluted, absolutely crushing comeback, that is sure to gratify all fans, old and new, annihilating everything in its path. Only the very brave can survive the glacial vortex. Perhaps the comeback of the year 2019. Highly recommended. 9/10
© 2019 by Emil Chiru