Old school Swedish death metal has become saturated to a point where I experience a certain phobia when encountering new releases, fearing that it would just be another rehashing of Entombed/Dismember/Grave etc. But with Usurpress‘ 2012 debut full length garnering much attention from the metal world, along with splits with bands such as Bombs of Hades and Bent Sea, these Swedes have certainly gotten me excited with their brand new release, the follow up to Trenches of the Netherworld, Ordained.
The haunting atmosphere that is created right from The Heart of the Last Kingdom immediately hints towards a spine-tingling, yet bone-crushing listening experience and as soon as the first riffs of Pahl comes in, one is in for a treat. The influences from classic Swedish death metal such as Entombed and Dismember are obvious, but the band takes a more crusty approach on Ordained. The energetic, d-beats of Calle quickly brings to mind the more punk-influenced style of bands such as Bombs of Hades or Bastard Priest, and one quickly finds himself thrashing about furiously with the intensity that the band presents on Ordained.
Atmospherics are key to Usurpress‘ music on Ordained, and songs like The Undeification show this well, with the inclusion of flutes and pianos. Despite this being just a short interlude, this manages to show the dynamics and versatility in the songwriting abilities in Usurpress. Furthermore, doom elements are cleverly infused throughout the record, surprisingly complements the fast, reckless and chaotic punk elements of their craft. There are moments where the band goes into complete stoner/sludge metal mode, like on Lóthlorien, seeing Usurpress almost going into the dark and ominous territories before pulling themselves back out again.
The production on Ordained is understandably, and suitably old-school, with loud, bombastic guitars accompanied by the drums to emphasise that crust influence. However, that tone of the guitar does tend to get annoying at times, though it manages to help make the riffs sound somewhat ominous, attaining the goal of the chilling atmosphere on the record.