USURPER - Master Of The Realm LP (Oxblood Vinyl)

USURPER - Master Of The Realm LP (Oxblood Vinyl)

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Although there's close to a dozen similarly named bands within the Metal Archives, Britain's Usurper is a mighty solid trad metal quintet long due for praise. Hailing from Newcastle upon Tyne (home of Satan), it boasts of a 2018 four track EP titled Vanguard as well as 2021's eight track Master Of The Realm, which generally brings to mind long patronized acts such as Airforce, Horacle and Thorium. What's more, the entire time it feels like a brawny tug-of-war between the graceful aesthetic of say, post Di'Anno Iron Maiden and much wilder, acrobatic disposition of the despairingly defunct Horacle from Belgium.

The dual axe men's crisp guitar tones wickedly compliment the ever-pulsing bass. At times, it even sounds like a "digital" version of Steve Harris' fluent gallop, albeit with sharper twists and turns. A great example is the Piece Of Mind-ish title track, whilst true Bruce Dickinsonian aero-dynamism is gleaned on mini-epic "The Devil And The Traveller", where leads broach frenzied, classical territory. The drumming is also tight, permitting a steady springboard for the strong musicianship.

My favourite track consists of "War Of The Machines", a dead-ringer for textbook Judas Priest circa 1984's Defenders Of The Faith. All in all, pacing is very good; never are we craning our necks to check the clock as to confirm our visual screen shielding break is over (so we can return to patrolling the Wasteland outside of the City Of Miracles, at Xsana's behest).

An enchanting outlier lies within the cleanly reverb'd "Witchfinder" - complete with Matthew Hopkins-ated spoken word intro - where a dreamy intro sequence leads into a swooning anthem à la Manowar lite. Another song which is less balls to the wall, yet mystically soothing, is "For All Eternity", an opportunity for front man Paul Atkinson to stretch his stentorian upper-mid range to unprecedented levels of mesmerism. Next to Suffolk's Heathen Kings (and killer artwork aside), Usurper establishes itself as yet further serious player within the contemporary "new wave of British heavy metal".