|Crust Punk, Death Metal
January 22nd, 2015
Release length: 33:47
As you would expect, Usurping the Throne of Disease is, infact, another recording largely on the rawer side of things. This does play up the Crust-Punk foundations throughout the album, as well as gives each track a dirty sensation that makes early Cancer and Avulsed albums blush. And while the production itself is commendable, it would work in favor if the songs themselves were better. You are met with this fact right off the bat with “The Howling Wolves of Armageddon”. The main verses actually have more of a Hardcore presence behind them, which wouldn’t be bad if it weren’t for the upbeat hooks in the chorus, a result from the obnoxiously loud drums that drown damn near everything out with the same steady pace you’ll hear on nearly every track of the recording. They are so bad, in fact, that those aforementioned hints of melody actually come off kind of mainstream, making one want to jump around instead of letting out a warcry and joining a circle pit. The only thing really worth any merit ends up being the fantastic bass presence towards the end that really steps up and feeds into the speed and enthusiastic presence of the group.
But that enthusiasm can also be destructive. “Deathstrike of the Scythe” finds some sudden blast beats in the drums alongside simpler Punk riffs that can get your head bobbing along. The guitar solo later on is fantastic as well, taking on more of a Speed Metal touch that is nicely welcomed. While the music itself isn’t bad, the disgusting raspy shouts don’t fit the rhythm being performed most of the time, and the layering sounds absolutely awful, worsened by the echo effect. This leads what could have been one of the better tracks of the offering to sound like an ill-timed amateurish execution from a band not quite paying attention to what the others in the group are doing thanks to one too many energy drinks and just too much going on in the mix that the rough audio quality can’t handle.
There are so very few tracks that actually work out given the many flaws this recording faces, and most are found in the latter half. “Venomous Warfare” lays off the snarling, vile raspy shouting and overuse of layering with additional echoes. The drums also have a little more variety thrown into the kind of blast beat drumming that, along with a deeper guttural presence, allow the guitars a chance to shine through. This makes all the difference in the world to the release, keeping everything from sounding the same and providing something a little different that feels naturally primal and aggressive without ever going overboard. Even “Into the Darkness of Eternal Nuclear Winter” has that somewhat simpler groove “Deathstrike of the Scythe” and many other carried, but the music all lines up with less effects in the vocals, which also match up with the music, and there’s a sense of control in the overall performance. The cleaner hooks also help build up an eerie sensation that works behind the varying gutturals and rasps.
The brief “Till Graven” actually finds the band taking on more of a traditional Death Metal and Grindcore role, which paves the way for a something that feels natural from the group. Plenty of catchy grooves litter the track, and the steady drums play their role quite well, making one wonder if a lot of the problems facing this release are a band trying to be Punk but stick in a world of grinding. Whatever the case may be, the additional technicality in the bass guitar is a fantastic touch that holds a subtle surfing sensation, though that’s probably more a coincidence than on purpose. And then there’s “Usurping the Throne of Disease” to consider. Things kick off with a desolate Doom Metal-esque entrance, slow paced and setting up a barren wasteland that the frostbitten blackened riffs and groove-heavy chorus perfectly play off of. The bass guitar isn’t quite as buried either, adding a whole other dynamic level to engage the listener on, especially some of the more technical notes played in the bridges like around the three-and-a-half minute mark prior to an infectious Punk passage that treads the line of Speed Metal, easily making this the best representation of what the band is capable of.
When you really break Usurping the Throne of Disease down, you have about half an album that’s pretty painful to sit through, while the last half is actually pretty good, though even then only a handful of songs really stick out and end up worth coming back to. As already outlined, this is a release that just has a number of things wrong with it in a technical stand point, and even with the compositions themselves as well as how they translated in the studio. Chances are a lot of this material is better live, but the final product here is rocky at best. Hopefully this is more of a collection of songs that weren’t previously recorded (other than “Into the Darkness of Eternal Nuclear Winter” of course) and the next effort will be a bit more narrowed down into a consistent sound or direction, maybe even out the levels as well, or throw a little more range into the drumming. As it stands, Usurping the Throne of Disease is something only the most debonair of Crust-Punk Death Metal fans will get a kick out, but even after a few spins it’s hard to justify going back to listen to the whole thing instead of the few songs that really stand out and are worth throwing on your digital playlist.
01. The Howling Wolves of Armageddon – 3:10
02. Deathstrike of the Scythe – 3:11
03. Venomous Warfare – 3:59
04. Into the Darkness of Eternal Nuclear Winter – 3:37
05. Usurping the Throne of Disease – 5:56
06. Millions Lie Slaughtered – 4:43
07. Till Graven – 1:24
08. Mass Graves of the Innocent – 3:12
09. 09 Swathed by the Black Wings of Death – 4:35
|Initial Pressing Score: 4.5/10
via Clawhammer PR.