Welcome to the third installment of this evolving list (you’ll find the first two here). Can you guess why I decided to put these two songs together?
After a certain point everyone becomes increasingly shorter as they age, typically losing almost half an inch (about 1 centimeter) every 10 years after age 40, mainly due to spinal compression and diminishing bone density. But you don’t have to wait for that creeping decline. You can get it all over with right now. The pounding that Gloson administer in “Usurper” delivers decades of spinal compression in minutes.
We premiered this song (and video) in March of last year. It’s one of two tracks on this Swedish band’s 2019 EP, Mara, which earned its way onto many of the year-end lists we posted. The impact of the music caused me to run wild with my verbiage, some of which I’ll repeat here for those who might not be familiar with “Usurper”:
“Like the extraterrestrial locales in the video — the titanic outer planets of our solar system and their barren moons and vast rings — the music is both desolate and fantastical, and gargantuan in its heaviness. The central riff that loops through most of the song is itself titanic, heavy enough to create its own gravity well, heavy enough to send your body into a metronomic lurch. And there is a harsh and barren quality in those sounds — it seems to moan at the same time as it crushes.
“The punch of the drums, which slug hard enough to bruise your core, amplifies the pulverizing force of that muscular riff, and the fills clatter and clobber with equal power against the inside of the skull. Meanwhile, simmering, shimmering, pulsing leads create an unearthly presence that’s full of tension and peril. They seems to glow, and to boil like the encapsulation of pain.
“The instrumental music is plenty intense, but made more intense by the vocalist’s wrenching howls, which seem to straddle a line between anguish and fury. Even the distorted spoken words are chilling. The song as a whole is indeed as chilling and hostile as the void between the spheres, and as massive and mystifying as the gas giants that dominate the far reaches of our planetary system.”
I’ll add only one more comment now: In addition to everything else, the song is damned infectious.
New Jersey’s Hath released a hell of a good debut album last April via Willowtip Records. Entitled Of Rot and Ruin, it delivers “hyper-intense drum work, meaty, rumbling bass lines, bold, weighty riffs, and moodily melodic lead lines, all arranged in an impressively punchy, artfully proggy, manner, and topped off with some seriously aggressive (and occasionally surprisingly adventurous) vocals” (to quote from Andy Synn‘s NCS review). Andy closed that review this way:
“If you’re a fan of bands like Slugdge, Allegaeon, and underappreciated Prog-Death icons Iron Thrones (remember them?) then you should definitely carve out some time to listen to this one if you can, if only so you can say that you were into these guys before they got big!”
One of the songs on the album has become a personal favorite, and I’m adding it to this list today. Its name is “Usurpation“.
A brief morbid, doom-soaked, introductory passage leads into an eruption of riotous drumming and an eerie pulsating riff that quickly gets stuck in the head. From there the song zig-zags in a frenzy, delivering racing mayhem and spine-jarring, pile-driving jolts, as well as sickly melodies, soloing that’s both menacingly reptilian and gloriously spiraling, jittery fretwork escapades, and throat-cutting vocal nastiness.
Lots of these twisting and turning episodes prove to be catchy in and of themselves, and one of the most infectious aspects of the song surprisingly turns out to be the electrifying vocals near the end, which straddle a line between singing and gritty roaring. I look forward to it every time I listen.