Released: 2005, Earache Records/Sound Pollution
Reviewer: Anders Sandvall
I had to do some background research about this band because they are a brand new acquaintance for me. Usurper come from Chicago and have been in the industry for 12 years. Their debut came in 1995, titled, DIABOLOSIS. Since then they have released another 5 albums and the latest one, TWILIGHT DOMINION, came in 2003. CRYPTOBEAST is their second release on Earache Records.
The last album was recorded in Chicago’s Rax Trax Studio, and behind the mixing table sat Neil Kernon (Judas Priest, Decide, Cannibal Corpse etc). Usurper have worked with Neil also this time, and Neil has done wonders with the production; it sounds brutal, aggressive, and hard.
The bio says this about Usurper; “These fist banging, beer swilling metalheads bring you OTT ultra heavy metal that is true to the essence of classic underground bands like Venom, Celtic Frost and Slayer. Usurper’s love and admiration of old school lead them to create their own brand of uncompromising black/death/thrash”.
I wouldn’t go that far in my description of the band; I’d say that it does sound like death and thrash, but also heavy metal in some parts. I’d describe this as a raw heavy/thrash/death metal with the focus on old heavy metal; the way it sounded at the beginning of the 80’s. I wouldn’t say that they play black metal, but you can hear influences of it in some of the songs.
I grew up with all of the bands that were mentioned in the bio, and was into the thrash/black/speed/death and especially heavy metal. I’m glad to see that there are bands today that still play old school death/thrash/heavy metal, just like Usurper.
There are a few changes in the line up on CRYPTOBEAST. They have a new singer by the name of Dan “Tyrantor” Lawson, and they welcome back their original drummer and founder, Joe “Apocalyptic” Warlord, in the band. These true metal warriors have been on the road with Cradle of Filth, Manowar, and the Swedish band, Dark Funeral, to mention a few.
The new lead singer Dan does an OK job, I think, and he’s not one of the greatest singers, but his voice works to this music. The guitar players, Rick and Carcass, riff on; sharing a lot of sharp twin guitar duels amongst them. The returning drummer and founder, Joe, shows that he’s both fast and technical, and he handles the double bass pedal play brilliantly. It sounds like all of the guys are really skilled musicians that know exactly how it should sound.
CRYPTOBEAST consists of 10 tracks, and amongst those tracks is a remake of the old song, “Warriors of Iron and Rust”; a song that apparently is a favorite amongst their fans. They run through the songs at a hideous tempo, and by looking at the title of the tracks, the lyrics are about pure aggression, violence, death, and other similar fun stuff. It’s not only the music that sounds 80, the lyrics sound like 1980 to; something that really is to the bands benefit.
If we return to the bio it says; “This album is and iron first in the face of all nu-metal, emo-core, and other forms of horse shit commonly labeled as “metal” these days”. And who can’t agree with that, huh?
Killer tracks are “Bones of My Enemies”, “Kill for Metal”, “Conquest of the Grotesque”, “Return of the Werewolf”, and “Reptilian”.