With bass player Daniel Ekeroth having literally written the book (0n) Swedish Death Metal, you'd expect Usurpress to have their shit together, and that they certainly do. What might catch you off guard is just how little this sounds like Dismember, Carnage, At the Gates, Arch Enemy, etc. Ekeroth is far from a mere journalist, having cut his teeth in death metal bands like Insision, Dellamorte, and Iron Lamb (thus giving the lie to the notion that music journalists are all failed musicians… frankly, most of us are just failed writers).
Having left Insision three years ago, Ekeroth appears to be more interested in following the links between D-beat, crust punk and death metal that he explored in his book about the Swedish scene. The guitars on Trenches of the Netherworld – his latest band Usurpress' full length debut – have a detuned crunch to them, but in a way that recalls Hellbastard or Chaos UK more so than Entombed.
At times it can be hard to tell whether this is a metal album with crust influences or vice versa. The title track, with it's pronounced d-beat, seems to argue in favor of a metallic version of punk, but elsewhere "Dethroned by Shadows" and "The God Eaters" represent pretty straightforward death metal, albeit with a modern hardcore production (think in terms of the recent Southern Lord h/c sound).
In general, though, the band do a pretty good job of paying equal lip service to both crust and vintage death. Stefan Petterson's gruff, punk-influenced vocals ably tie the songs together while Calle Andersson's beats help diversify and differentiate the material. These guys aren't willing to settle for "promise" or "potential", they're here to rip your fucking head off right out of the gate.
Trenches of the Netherworld is out July 10 on Selfmadegod.