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Review: Usurper - Cryptobeast

Label: Earache Records
Year released: 2005
Duration: 38:22
Tracks: 10
Genre: Heavy Metal


Review online: February 25, 2005
Reviewed by: Sargon the Terrible
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Rated 4.35/5 (87%) (20 Votes)

Sixth release from one of the best US bands, and one I have been awaiting eagerly for a while now. Usurper kicked my ass with "Necronemesis", and then proceeded to chop it into little bits with the massive "Twilight Dominion", and now we have "Cryptobeast". My only question was "how much ass does it kick?"

A lot. This is Usurper after all, and I don't think you could stop them from putting out 90-proof, high-octane smoking metal if you ran over them with a bulldozer. This album is both less and more individual than their other recent works, I'll try and explain that. On the one hand, this album sounds less like Celtic Frost than the last two, and on the other it sounds more like mainstream Black/Death bands like Behemoth or God Dethroned. Not a lot, but the shift towards a slightly less individual sound is noticeable. The riffs are faster and less chunky, the guitar tone is more polished, and the vocals of new frontman Dan Tyrantor sound a lot more like Nergal or John Tardy than Tom Warrior. Not to dis the new guy – he's really good, and if the booklet claims of 'no vocal effects!' are true, then he's even better than good – but he's no General Slaughter, not by a mile.

Now that does not mean that 'Cryptobeast" is some kind of sellout. It most certainly is not. If anything, this is faster, meaner, and more savage than "Twilight Dominion", with a lot more fast tunes, and a level of screaming fury that will slam your face into your own ribcage. The murderous "Bones Of My Enemies" gets you right in the thick of it with the blazing riffs and double-bass assault. "Kill For Metal" trumps "Metal Lust" as the best ode to leather and spikes this band has done – I fear for any poser in the crowd when this song gets going, as he is a dead man. A short instrumental "Ectoplasm" slows things down before "Return Of The Werewolf" comes howling out to eat your face. The album never lets up after this, and songs like "Reptilian" and the crushing title track will keep your skull pressed to the buzzsaw.

So while this album marks a slight shift in direction from outright Celtic Frost worship to a more 'modern' sound, the patented Usurper asswhup is still laid down with great zeal, and the shreds of flesh left on your skeleton will attest that this does indeed rule supreme over pansy crap like Naglfar. "Cryptobeast" may not be the most original-sounding album this band has done, but it is an unholy slab of unbridled, murderous wrath.

More about Usurper...
Review: Diabolosis (reviewed by Sargon the Terrible)
Review: Lords of the Permafrost (reviewed by Sargon the Terrible)
Review: Necronemesis (reviewed by Sargon the Terrible)
Review: Skeletal Season (reviewed by Sargon the Terrible)
Review: Threshold of the Usurper (reviewed by Mjölnir)
Review: Twilight Dominion (reviewed by Sargon the Terrible)
Interview with Rick Scythe (guitars) on January 15, 2003 (Interviewed by Barbara Williams (Crowley))
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