The Usurper

Noteworthy Metal – November 2019

This column is a reprint from Unwinnable Monthly #121. 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.


I have a big batch of noisy nonsense for you lovelies this month!! Next month I’ll do a year-end roundup so for now enjoy a crop of artisan hand-picked metal.

Pale/nhomme/Tochu-Kaso/Asunojokei – Two
This four-way split pairs up two of my favorite groups going with two I hadn’t heard of before. My favs Pale and Asunojokei I’ve talked about in this column before; nhomme’s track is a bit of superb screamo, and Tochu-Kaso offers fight-mosh hardcore with tin-can drums. Say thank you!

Kostnat?ní – Hr?za zvít?zí
Clattering, acidic black metal in the old “avant-garde” mold – to give you an idea of the sound, Serpent Column, whose record this year is absolutely tremendous, are thanked on the Bandcamp page. With the number of bands working superbly in this style hopefully we can now retire the wanky racists in Deathspell Omega.

Malignant Altar – Retribution of Jealous Gods
IGNORANT, swampy death metal with grooves for days and a nicely balanced mix. I am always open to a good pingy snare.

White Ward – Love Exchange Failure
I don’t quite know how to describe this – post-metal is the broadest term I can use but the shifts into “dark jazz” add a character quite unlike Isis or whoever. Extremely moody cabaret club black metal, how about that. If you find yourself looking for more texture and vibes in your black metal this is one I would recommend.

Woven Noise – The Black Pearl
Hypercompressed midrangey chug-metal in the vein of Behemoth, Sigh or even Fleshgod Apocalypse. Just endless bottom-string squelching and shrieking vocals with a pleasing Orchestral Air thanks to the string arrangements.

In Mourning – Garden of Storms
In Mourning used to be a bit like a meathead Opeth, but they’ve blossomed into a fantastic melodic/gothic death metal act. If you don’t pop for the chorus around 2:30 into the opener you clearly didn’t listen to enough Porcupine Tree growing up.

Obsequiae – The Palms of Sorrowed Kings
This just rips. Harmonically dense compositions with the somewhat . . . jolly air I always get from medieval music. The amount of guitar lines swirling around each other in these songs is dizzying and beautiful. RIYL jousting, feudalism.

Rimfrost – Expedition: Darkness
Immortal tribute act with some power metal flavor. Huge chunko Damned in Black riffs beat your skull in while the bass + drums keep throwing in sleazy hair metal rhythms.

October Tide – In Splendor Below
October Tide have roots in Katatonia (& In Mourning’s vocalist was with them for a bit), playing melodic death/doom that is never quite as depressing as I favor from this style but scratches the Paradise Lost itch well enough.

Earth II – Earth and Pillars
Sprawling atmospheric black metal; windswept and seemingly endlessly textured, like a mountain so tall its peak is buried somewhere way up among the clouds.

Will of a Balanced World Volume II – Deep Mountains 
Speaking of mountains. This Chinese four-piece play dynamic, atypical black metal that frequently downshifts into slowcore. The first volume of this album is also on Bandcamp and equally worth checking.


Astrid Budgor is a writer and editor living in Florida.

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