Sunday, November 3, 2013

Usnea - Usnea

Review by Aaron Sullivan.


From the vibrant metal scene of Portland comes Usnea self titled debut, and it’s a monster. Their blending of genres is unlike anything I have heard in recent years. Metal Archives classifies them as a Blackened DOOM band. Which is true. But the small additions of other genres is what really sets them apart.

Blackened anything is a something I love. Even more so when the words Sludge or DOOM are after it. Both of those genres can be heard on this record. Along with bits of Drone and some Post Rockish parts. The seamless blending of these is what I love the most. Never sudden or jerky. One flows right into the other. Four songs over 10 minutes in length each allow them to explore all of their genre influences. The closest comparison I can make is to the first Altar of Plagues album. Not in terms of sound but how they can blend genres with in songs and the album. There is an atmosphere of darkness that runs through this entire album. Even when it gets quiet (and that is not much at all) you never feel safe. You know darkness is lurking just around the next riff. Blackened vocals help to add to that feeling. This is an album that needs to be heard in it’s totality.

I put off hearing this album for some time with no good reason. Well better late than never. Because it will no doubt end up on my year end list, and may very well crack the top 5. This is one of the most promising debuts I have heard in some time.


[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]


A side note: The Bandcamp has four songs. But if you buy the record it only has the first two. But have no fear, as the purchase of the physical copy( which I always prefer) comes with a digital download for all four songs. Not as good as getting all four, but the next best thing.

Tagged with 2013, Aaron Sullivan, black metal, doom metal, Usnea
21 comments:
  1. It's good.

    The top 5 comment got me thinking about mine. Put simply: it's still murky.

    Right now, I've got Vhol, Owl, Immolation, and Zemial locked in, with the fifth spot in contention among a group of Dead Awaken, the Howling Wind, Inquisition, Altars, Lycus, and Sarke. Then there are four more bands releasing in November that could have something to say about it: Obliteration, Satan's Wrath, Vastum, and Aevangelist.

    Ugh. I thought it'd be easier in 2013...but it isn't.

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    1. My top 5 list would be all over the map. It's been a good year for death metal, but the albums I keep coming are the ones with emotion like Fuck the Facts - Amer, Cloud Rat - Moksha, and... Atlantean Kodex - The White Goddess.

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    2. Wow. None of those albums are on my list. Other than Lycus I haven't even heard any of them. But that diversity of tastes is what makes this site so good.

      Other albums this year so far for me. Batillus - Concrete, Jex Thoth - Blood Moon Rise, Primitive Man - Scorn, Skagos - Anarchic. But there are still a few more album released this year that could change that. Not to mention all the non metal albums I loved this year.

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    3. I've got a separate list for EP's. That one's got Ash Borer, Grayceon, and of course, Fuck the Facts.

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    4. Ah yes, Grayceon. More emotion.

      The funky doom from Battilus that Aaron mentions were also quite good..

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    5. Hmm... Deafheaven, Inter Arma. Emotion, emotion.

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    6. I bet Inter Arma makes a lot of year-end lists.

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    7. How the hell did I miss Deafheaven. That one might be my album of the year. Add Jesu, Liar in Wait, Man's Gin, Panopticon/Vestiges split, The Ruins of Beverast, Tomahawk, True Widow, Vista Chino, Wolvserpent, and Wrekmeister Harmonies. Lots of great stuff this year.

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    8. Is Deafheaven even the best BM album of 2013?

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    9. For me it is. Ruins and Skagos are the only ones that comes close to it.

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    10. Off the cuff, I'd going with Deafheaven, Altar of Plagues, Batillus, Shining, and Gorguts.

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    11. Altar of Plagues was HUGE disappointment for me. I loved their first two records. I have no clue what they are doing on the last one. October Falls and Flight of the Sleipnir were also disappointments for me.

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    12. Interesting. I didn't even finish the new Alter of Plagues before I ran screaming back to White Tomb.

      I'd like to read your take on it one day.

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    13. My take is simple. It sounds like Meshuggah. The songs are short and too chaotic. They were genius at creating such great atmosphere. First album had those Khanate sections that I loved. I thought Mammal was a game changer. They dropped the ball on that last album.

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    14. Vattnet Viskar and the Howling Wind both impressed me far more than Deafheaven or Skagos. Inquisition and Thrall might end up there too.

      I'm still not sure what to think of Altar of Plagues' "final" album.

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    15. "Teethed Glory & Injury" sounds NOTHING like Meshuggah.

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    16. I'm not saying the entire album sounds like them. But the disjointed chugs remind me of them. Either way they went completely off the rail with that album.

      I remember hearing Vallent's E.P., it did nothing for me. Will check out Howling Wind.

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    17. Agreed. The pseudo-industrial atmosphere is...mystifying.

      It's like they listened to "Illud Divinum Insanus" and thought "Hey, that sounds cool"....

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  2. Psst, hey guys... Usnea is from Portland. Still vibrant.

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    1. Oops, fixed. Thanks for the heads up.

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