The Usurper

Noteworthy Metal – September 2019

This column is a reprint from Unwinnable Monthly #119. If you like what you see, grab the magazine for less than ten dollars, or subscribe and get all future magazines for half price.


Selections of noteworthy metal.


This month we have an abundance of doom and grind, perhaps my two favorite styles outside “irredeemably depressing black metal.” See for yourself:

Takafumi MatsubaraStrange, Beautiful, and Fast

Takafumi Matsubara was the guitarist for grind legends Gridlink; his solo record features a wild lineup of guests for a kind of grindcore mixtape, a relentless showcase for Matsubara’s brilliantly melodic hyperspeed riffs.

No One Knows What the Dead ThinkNo One Knows What the Dead Think

OK, so only one track from this is currently released, but it rips. New project from Discordance Axis vocalist Jon Chang (also ex-Gridlink) and guitarist Rob Marton, featuring a bunch of weeb song titles – the single is named “Yorha,” there’s “Kaine,” “Rakuyo,” “Sakaya” . . . trust me it sounds good though!

Weeping SoresFalse Confession

Wonderfully morose doom, with squealing Turn Loose the Swans riffs and melodramatic violin accompaniment. Almost distressingly gothic and lugubrious.

Crypt SermonThe Ruins of Fading Light

Crypt Sermon’s second album is blustery classic doom in the Candlemass mode: big goofy vocals and chugging guitar. Quintessential puffy-shirt vibes.

Fetid – Steeping Corporeal Mess

Grotty, crunchy death metal. Amazing crusty bass tone. Sounds like dried snot; fabulous.

Serpent ColumnMirror in Darkness

UNREAL mastery of the Deathspell Omega/Blut Aus Nord “avant-garde” black metal approach; at times even sounds like the hypnotic, textural sound Liturgy were going for on Aesthetica, but good. It’s easy to take the virtuosic levels of musicianship on a lot of these records for granted because they’re all seemingly at the same high level of proficiency. Mirror in Darkness has a clangorous, angular production whose strangeness imbues the playing with pounding energy; the drums alone sound like nothing else. It makes you hear the music in a different way when it doesn’t sound like the stylistic norm and Serpent Column sound like a all-corrupting, cyclopean miasma.

Raventale Morphine Dead Gardens

Remorselessly slow and icy funeral doom that takes its cues from Shape of Despair’s tremendous Monotony Fields – “monotony” being a good thing in this context! Long blooms of synth and reverb decay over stern processions of dense, low-tuned guitar. Gorgeous record.

Cloud RatPollinator

Cloud Rat fucking rip. Lyrics, riffs, vocals, drumming; all of it goes the fuck off and Pollinator is just as good as 2015’s Qliphoth. Screamo levels of deeply felt vitriol in brutal little grind packages. See also Do Not Let Me Off the Cliff, an accompanying EP of minimal synth/industrial tracks that indulges the band’s penchant for atmospherics.


Astrid Budgor is a writer and editor living in Florida.

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