Before taking the time to listen to Red Usurper’s new album, The Sphere of Time, I had been going through an existential crisis. After so many years of doom and stoner rock music, I had started to get annoyed by the repetitive nature of the genre. There’s only so much you could do with slow riffs and the formula had started to feel saturated. That being said, The Sphere of Time presents itself as something different. I was half-expecting the usual “play it safe” doom that sticks too close to source materiel, but right off the first track, I could tell this wouldn’t be exactly just that. It was pleasantly refreshing and I quickly moved on to the next song, hoping the freshness wouldn’t die down after the first song.
Now, I have to say that these guys are much more doom than actually stoner (Yes, I make a clear difference between the two). First off, they play a faster genre of metal, with many variations in the vocals. Singer Scott Nicol has a very diverse voice, sometimes singing higher and other times giving us an almost death metal like scream or growl. In my opinion, his skills shine most on “Chains,” where he shows us the amazing control he has over his vocal chords. What made this album refreshing for me was the musical composition. They mix it well, with breakdowns and a good use bridges. Drummer Tyler Murray and bassist Matt Vail keep the tempo hot and spicy while guitarists Mike Foster and Steve English lay down those heavy riffs. Special mention to the marching riff on “Blackened on the Second Day;” it remains a simple riff, but in no means does that take away from its awesomeness. With the pounding drums and a very well-played solo, it ranks as one of my favourites on the album.
This band also plays around with genres. You definitely have your classic heavy metal/doom feel to some songs, which will please those fans, but on songs like “Infected,” the music seems to be pulled out of the trash metal guidebook while surprising you with some slower and experimental bits. Although these guys definitely like experimenting and trying new things, this is an album that will please any metal head or rocker, but maybe not a more general audience. This is definitely not a bad thing mind you, I just got the feeling that it was crafted for a more precise audience. Now, that being said, seeing as they are open to trying new things, I’m interested to see which direction will be taken: Will they stay along the same path and play for metal fans, or will they try and incorporate more experimental sounds in order to attract a larger audience? I wonder.
Either way, I really enjoyed this album. It had me hooked until the end and I was surprised, like I said, that the freshness was there for the whole album. These guys are on to something and definitely deserve more attention, so feel free to check them out on Facebook and all social media outlets out there! The album was released on the 7th of September, go check it out!
Written by Johnathan Robinson
*edited by Danielle Kenedy