Album Review: River of Souls – Usurper

Dutch doomed heavy death quintet River of Souls return with new album Usurper.

The band hasn’t strayed too far from the ethos on debut album The Well of Urd which the band described in their own words upon release as “an album with lyrical themes as our everlasting fate, the binding forces of nature and our journey through the light and the dark. This was accompanied by a very diverse sound palette, ranging from doomy coldness, through diverse melodic parts, to straight up-tempo death metal which creates a gateway to the world beneath the Well.”

Usurper‘s opener “Harbinger” is a short intro track that blends into “Of Pit And Snare” which is the first real taster of the new line up at full capacity. It’s slow and melodic but still has some bite from the growls of vocalist Bart de Greef.

“At Rope’s End” is where the real doom elements are evident which has a vocal style change with mostly clean vocals.

Title track “Usurper” is a nearly 10-minute emotional battle combining guttural death metal with the sweeping misery of cold, bleak doom at it’s finest – it’s probably for that reason that the latter part of the track swayed my decision of making this my stand out track of the album. I have to say the follow-up, “A Spirit’s Wait”, makes the perfect accompaniment and having both tracks side by side works fantastically well.

The second instrumental track to appear on the album, “Fateweaver”, has an incredible amount of fury to propel into the near 12-minute journey that is “The Tightening”.

Finally, “Aftermath” brings everything to a close tinged with pain and sadness. I found the overall experience of the album woefully pleasant.

Usurper will be released on May 15th

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