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Album Review

If Usurper's brand of death metal sounds comfortingly old school to longtime fans of the style who have little truck with the addition of symphonic keyboards, ethereal female vocals, or any other added trappings, it's for good reason: this Chicago quintet has been at it since the early '90s. Despite some fairly major changes in personnel — welcome new lead singer Dan Lawson (a refreshingly everydude change from former lead grunter General Diabolical Slaughter) — Usurper have only occasionally tinkered with their basic style, and on Cryptobeast, the group seems to have made a conscious decision to stick to the basics, down to welcoming its original drummer, Joe Warlord, back into the lineup. Usurper could have released this album in 1995 and it wouldn't have sounded out of place. The group's eternal debt to death metal pioneers Celtic Frost (from whom the younger group cribbed their name) is plain in the two basses and one guitar attack of songs like "Bones of My Enemies" and the hyperkinetic "Supernatural Killing Spree," but Usurper are no tribute band: the crazed speed riffing of "Kill for Metal" and the oddly pretty instrumental "Ectoplasm" show that they have tricks of their own to explore.


Genre: Rock

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Taking their name, and frankly much of their sound, from the legendary Celtic Frost, this Chicago death metal trio came together in 1993. Although Usurper's sound is fairly derogatory of early black/death metal, à la Venom and the aforementioned Celtic Frost, they manage to be creative enough to stay away from being labeled a retro band. Consisting of Sythe (guitar), Diabolical Slaughter (vocals), and Apocalyptic Warlord (drums), they released a studio demo, Visions From the Gods (now out of print),...
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Cryptobeast, Usurper
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