Usurpress – Interregnum (Review)

UsurpressUsurpress are a Swedish death metal band and this is their fourth album.

Usurpress play an interesting and atypical brand of death metal. They essentially take a death metal base and build on it not only with sludge influences, but with progressive ones too. I already really enjoyed the band’s split with Bent Sea and their previous album The Regal Tribe, and I like that with each release the band seem to be pushing their creative limits further and further.

On this new album Usurpress have continued with their sludgy death metal, only they have injected all manner of progressive influences into their sound. These latter aspects have no doubt been bolstered by the inclusion of a jazz-influenced drummer and an ambient/trance keyboardist that join the core three members of the band for this recording. The results are simply stunning.

Usurpress’ added progressive rock/metal influences are strongly felt on Interregnum, but they don’t completely overpower the core of the band’s sound, nor do they fully transform them into another entity entirely. No, these are simply enhancements and amendments to the Usurpress style; the latest incarnation in what is increasingly becoming an individual and impressive band.

The songs on Interregnum are generally slower, longer, and more involved than the band’s previous work. The progressive influences can really be felt, and the album feels like a complex and multifaceted journey into the internal mindscapes of the artists. Although there’s a lot of death metal content, (as you would expect), on occasion this disappears entirely, leaving us with what is, essentially, a progressive rock spectacle. Album opener A Place in the Pantheon is the perfect example of this.

The new keyboardist is not overused, but when he appears he definitely makes his presence felt with layers of additional enhancing sounds that create atmosphere and mood with ease.

The progressive influences extend to the vocals too, and we’re not just treated to the familiar deathgrowls of the band’s singer. Spoken word and characterful clean singing is also used, with the latter being particularly strong.

Well, this album is quite something. As much as I liked Usurpress in the past, this album surpasses everything that they’ve previously done. It’s been a real joy watching this band develop over the years, and it’s great to see them expand into newer territories, especially when the end result is as finely realised and well-delivered as it is on Interregnum.

Invigorating, exciting, satisfying, and essential.

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