Twilight Dominion

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From Obituary to Darkthrone to High on Fire, many metal bands over the years have paid tribute to or at least acknowledged the influence of Switzerland's Celtics Frost. However, it's hard to think of anyone who's done it with more devotion than Usurper, even if they seem completely out of time and place doing it in Chicago in the early 2000s. Twilight Dominion, their third album, is unsurprisingly another dose of straight-ahead, no-frills death metal that could have been recorded anytime since 1986. Vocalist General Diabolical Slaughter (no relation to pro wrestling's Sgt. Slaughter) grunts lyrics about tyrants, werewolves, and heavy metal itself in a still mostly decipherable style, his "oohs" and other punctuations sounding especially like Tom G. Warrior Guitarists Rick S. Scythe and Carcass Chris supply a steady stream of rock-solid riffs, and drummer Dave Hellstorm holds it all down with sturdy, economical, and thoroughly non-flashy percussion work. Taken together, it's not the fastest "extreme metal" out there, nor is it not the lowest, the most brutal, or the most technical. Still, there's a purity and spirit to Usurper's approach that sets them apart from the pack. They don't play as many notes as most death metal bands, but the ones they hit ring true.

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