- Blackened Doom/Drone/Sludge/Noise
- Byron Bay, NSW
- October 31, 2018
Usurper are a volatile doom trio from Australia that often strips down to the aesthetic of a solo project, the opening of their 2018 tape Offerings is a slow build towards certain blackened doom. Something Australia does – no matter the genre – is bring a tinge of southern stoner sludge to the sound in some way. This sounds like a fetid corpse being kept alive by toxic bong vapours. To make it even better, the physical tape comes with an exclusive fourth track “Conjuration of the Four”. Well in theory it makes it better, it’s kind of an anti-track so it depends on who you are whether or not it’s a bonus.
This tape is of note as it is the first one with a hand decorated shell, I suppose the limited run of 30 allows for such personalization, it brings with it a completely different texture. It’s coarse in some places and smooth in others, I suppose that is also true for the music. It’s demo quality on the inlay but nothing more would make any sense for this lofi style of Australian black doom, who also happen to be eco-minded. The cover is certainly distinguishable though I don’t really understand whether it is some building or a giant chair of some kind. I’m sure it’s some imagery I ought to feel silly for not recognising. The overall vibe of the release feels heavy with esoteric meaning and metaphor, similar to Cyttorak in that way and others.
Do you like doom? Do you like black metal? If yes to both of these questions, then you will for sure enjoy Usurper’s style of ornate sounding occult vibing blackened doom metal. Sometimes bordering on a ritualistic style of funeral doom. As I said up top, they often strip back to the bare minimum atmospherics and riff progressions for quite some time until you let your guard down and then the whole three pounce simultaneously as a gust of feedback and shouting that rarely quiets its primal groove right up until the complete sonic breakdown by the end of Side A which legitimately caused me to be confused and lunge for the pause button. I thought it was a prank of some kind but it turns out because the tapes are recycled, there’s snippets of the original left on there and I experienced one such original. Sounded like some really familiar 80s pop.
The final track (unless you’re listening on tape) is a bass driven and drum accentuated drone track “SERPENTS at my feet”. Those comfortable listening to Bongripper (My people) should be at home here with a similar sense of pacing – but even more barren and nihilistic, being far less musical in its approach. A warning for the pure drone experience to come, the exclusive track that took the album from its groove driven beginnings and left it crushed and broken open by the end, like the limp but still breathing victim of a rape, “Conjuration of the Four”. While I missed the groove and I don’t like pure drone, I can appreciate the theoretical deconstruction going on here and the general anti-marketing aspect of the music. Side B is a lot of noise and I doubt it cares what anyone thinks.
Overall, it’s an interesting tape for people who are well versed in the alternative bands within the extreme metal genres, I don’t think it’s safe for entry to mid-level listening. If you collect cassettes then you want this, this is a great cassette band for sure. If Side B was more consistent with the promise of Side A, I would have had a higher appreciation as I felt like they were onto something there more so than with the noise aspect. There’s people that would absolutely slap me for having that opinion, most of us know whether or not we like drone and a lot do.
Usurper are also playing live in my city soon at Crowbar Brisbane 4th October. I am very interested to see what the live variation of their music is like and if they shorten down to the groove more or not. If there’s old or new songs. I’ll hopefully be there to photograph and film it for Noob Heavy Australia (YouTube). Get there early to catch their set as they’re traveling from Byron Bay way.
Half filth – half noisy discourse, complete experience.