I will absolutely admit to signing on to do this review based entirely on the fact that Usurpress is such an ear-to-ear-smilingly fantastic name for a band. And really, why shouldn’t we let our baser natures and senseless flights of fancy guide us from time to time? Still, there is the inevitable creep of disappointment. Usurpress would not be the Band to Solve All Problems. Instead, Usurpress’s EP In Permanent Twilight is approximately twenty-two minutes of serviceable but frequently characterless, crust-flecked Swedish death metal.
Though these Swedes may garner a bit of attention due to the presence of Daniel Ekeroth (of Tyrant, and famed scribbler of the Swedish Death Metal tome) on bass, In Permanent Twilight spends too much of its already abbreviated running time cruising along in overly comfortable, d-beating death metal territory. Stefan Pettersson’s vocals are gruffly hoarse but largely unremarkable, and the guitar tone is somewhat uncharacteristically soft around the edges — fuzz, instead of buzz(saw).
It must also be said that In Permanent Twilight does not put its best foot forward, with the simple d-beat bruising of “Unpunished” and the unembellished two-step of “I Am an Empire” that quickly grows tiresome. When Usurpress occasionally drops down into mid-speed, it never picks up enough brute force to convey the menace that such decelerations ought to produce; instead, toward the end of “Embrace Your Non-Existence,” the band sounds positively relaxed, even bored. The swinging intro to “Primitive Majesty” is a nice change of pace, but it abates too quickly to stem the tide. Still, the EP’s last two songs are by far its strongest, with the filthy bass-led intro to “Downtrodden Isolation” making for a much-needed injection of energy, and with its odd, chiming guitar section with some new layered vocal approaches, it certainly stands out from the rest of the brusque clattering.
There’s nothing particularly unpleasant about Usurpress’s noisemaking, and in just twenty-two minutes the whole affair has ballooned and collapsed before one’s patience could ever be tried too sorely. Moreover, the cynical asshole in me half-wonders whether a Kurt Ballou production job would be enough to land this on (or at least near) Southern Lord’s current death/crust-curious roster, but when one has Black Breath, Wolfbrigade, Acephalix, and Martyrdöd to choose from just in the past couple months alone, there’s very little to set Usurpress apart from and above the rest.
Except the name. Goddamn, that’s a fine name for a band.