Friday, November 4, 2016

Usurpress - The Regal Tribe

By Hera Vidal. Everyone deals with pain differently; some choose to talk to others about it, others choose to keep the pain in and refuse to seek any help when it gets too much, and others choose to deal with it through music.
By Hera Vidal.

Artwork by Marald van Haasteren

Everyone deals with pain differently; some choose to talk to others about it, others choose to keep the pain in and refuse to seek any help when it gets too much, and others choose to deal with it through music. After all, in a medium that allows us to simultaneously empathize with and purge the pain the person is experiencing or has experienced. In the case of Usurpress, it seems that dealing with pain is a cathartic experience, and the only way to sometimes to deal with it is to let someone else in.

What kind of things has inspired the lyrics this time around? What kind of themes does the album deal with?

Stefan [Pettersson]: I think my battle with bone marrow cancer inspired the lyrics quite a bit. I was very sick when I wrote the story for the album, yeah, it’s a concept album, so I think the lyrics came out darker than usual. The story of the album is based around life versus death and what choice you make between them; it’s also a story of jealousy, vanity and betrayal.

From the Spanish Friedhof Magazine. Translation from the Usurpress blog.

The Regal Tribe is heavy, both in tone and in atmosphere. The first notes of “Beneath the starless skies” brings melancholic overtones with backing synths and death metal elements that seem to convey a sense of loss and a sense of desperation. This theme plays throughout the entire album, and adapts itself to several melodies and backing tones in each song. The first half of the album is heavier than the second half, as most of the death metal elements reside and make excellent use of all the instruments at their disposal. There are fierce, backing drums in “Across the dying the plains”, extensive jazz-like, prog-infused guitar distortion in “Beneath the starless sky” and, most prominently, “The halls of extinction”, which flows seamlessly into the second half of the album. That track marks the change the album will go into, paving the way to the road of acceptance.

The second half of the album begins with the deep bassline of “Throwing the gift away”, which leads to the clean vocals, heard for the first time on the entire album. The doom elements become prominent here—nevermind the change that happens halfway through the song, where everything returns to death metal for a while—especially in the ending sequence. It leads into “Behold the forsaken”, which has some interesting Sotajumala vibes, especially in the vocals and the guitars. It particularly shows in the guitars, where the constant beat seems to drive into you before releasing you back to its doom state. It’s fast, dark, and primal, making this the heaviest song on the record. The atmosphere sets the entire mood for the rest of the tracks, culminating in “In the shadow of the new gods”, where the theme throughout the entire album and the emotions behind it come to head. The acceptance of what has happened and what that has led to leads the song to end abruptly, before you realize that the beginning of “Beneath the starless skies” is the true ending of the album. Talk about a cyclical ending!

All in all, Usupress’ The Regal Tribe is emotionally intense, with superb vocals and instrumentation. There was a lot of death-doom tonalities that held the album together, although I wished they have been used more evenly throughout it. My only complaint is that the transitions between songs should have been smoother, as, sometimes, the transitions weren’t very clean. However, this might be to the digital edition of the album, so I digress. Regardless, The Regal Tribe may be difficult to get into on the first listen, but once you really get into it, it rewards you with music that is entirely the band’s own.

All the best wishes to vocalist Stefan Petterson in his battle with bone marrow cancer!

Tagged with 2016, Agonia Records, death metal, Hera Vidal, sludge metal, Usurpress
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