The Usurper

Noteworthy Metal – February 2020

This column is a reprint from Unwinnable Monthly #124. 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.


Hello everyone! Welcome to the new year; there is new metal to hear, already.

Sadness – Atna
Sadness return with more innovations in the depressing/depressive black metal sector, this time featuring 90s-emo clean vocals and a heavy focus on experimental noise passages. Superb as always. Special shouts to that roomy, post-rock-y drum tone . . .

No Point in Living – Last Magic
Speaking of depressing black metal it is my other favorite pro-life act, Japan’s No Point in Living. Last Magic pushes the project’s sound in some new directions, including the Darkthrone blitz of “Storm” and the guttural chugging on “No Words.” Melodies and songwriting are on point as usual!!

Revenant Marquis – Youth in Ribbons
Deeply haunted Welsh black metal, churning under a scrim of noise so dense you could probably make a case for this as a hauntology record. It seems to be about abuse at a girls’ school in the mid-20th century and the music roars with rare fury to match the subject matter. It’s not just run-of-the-mill BM dissonance but an all-consuming, brittle hatred worked into the production and performances like sigils into flesh. Highly recommended.

Malikliya – Condolence
Blackgaze with feather-light J-pop vocals; along the lines of a gauzier Necronomidol or Pale. This isn’t an idol project, as far as I can tell, but Risaki from Necroma is featured on “Wraith” so consider that a seal of quality. Women supporting women you love to see it!!!

Konvent – Puritan Masochism
Chunky death-doom out of Copenhagen. Sounds a bit like if Paradise Lost hadn’t spent decades sucking ass. I would be remiss not to mention that Konvent is a band comprised of four women and therefore worthy of your support.

Turia – Degen van Licht
Dutch black metal that flickers with wiry, bright guitar lines around the more typical thrashing. Perfectly wintry in a unique way; the band sounds like it’s surrounded by miles of open air, letting their sound get swallowed up by the sky.

Vengeful Spectre – Vengeful Spectre
Ripping, hardass black metal in the vein of Nokturnal Mortum (I know) – Chinese folk embellishments only sweeten the deal.

Mære – I
To fulfill this month’s non-Euclidian riffing quotient I have Mære, whose off-balance, spiky/angular riffs are on another planet. Like what the fuck is happening on “I Ascend?”

Sivyj Yar – Grief
Finally – Sivyj Yar’s latest is a gorgeous, gothic black metal record full of funereal beauty. Clean Robert Smith leads; check: morose choral pads hovering in the back of the mix; check: clanky bass; check. Instead of breaking into folk sections to display their influences, all those influences are woven into the songs naturally. Essential!!


Astrid Budgor is a writer and editor living in Florida.

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