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I’m well aware of some of the other bands these guys have been (or still are) involved with, like for instance The Cleansing, Corpus Mortale, Ad Noctum and Strychnos, but I was previously unaware of Usipian. Lucky for me, Anastasis of Nuclear Winter Records (the great guy that he is) handed me a copy of this record during the Kill-Town Death Fest. The first three tracks of In skinless form were recorded back in 2006, but were left unreleased until last year. Following these songs are two bonus tracks, recorded back in 2003 and originally released as a 7” the following year. So none of the material presented here is new, and there will be no new material produced since the lads called it quits in 2007. And that’s the brief history I know…
When the opening riff to the title track gets the CD going I get an instant Dead Congregation vibe, since the dark and atmospheric sound of it feels very similar to their typical sound. But that vibe quickly dissipates as the record moves along. It’s a bit difficult to label this with a particular style of death metal, as they seem to have drawn inspiration from quite a different set of bands. Incantation comes to mind just like Morbid Angel does, and also some Suffocation for a little brutality. It’s quite atmospheric, probably much thanks to the production, the guitars drive the music forward in a very powerful way, offering chunky-as-hell riffing that lays the foundation for the tunes. It’s extremely pummeling, but not overly blasting as one might’ve expected from such a description. They’ve thrown in tons of melody in the guitar lines, in a way that not many acts manage to pull off since it doesn’t take away from the brutality, but just adds to the atmosphere. Catchy, obscure riffs that somehow nods a little to the South American scene. The tempo varies quite a bit, intertwining the fast parts with a whole bunch of really heavy and chunky slow sections. The tracks move seamlessly from one to another, and it flows like one continued tune taking on different approaches to death metal.
The two bonus tracks have a little weaker production. While it’s most certainly not bad, it doesn’t have that obscure, semi-murky sound that the later recording has. The two songs also sound a little different due to it, and the melodies don’t come across in the same powerful manner, and it feels slightly more ‘modern’. We’re really lucky In skinless form was released posthumously, since it was originally never intended to be heard by the general public, but serve as a pre-recording for an upcoming album. I still haven’t heard their first (and only) album, Dead corner of the eye, but I’m definitely gonna look it up. Usipian’s final testament is skillful in every which way.
Originally written for http://www.mylastchapter.net
First and foremost, considering this title was produced by Flemming Rasmussen, the man behind a slew of "slightly" over-produced albums, it is worth saying that this album's production is not of the 2009 digital-age space-bar kick drum variety. It has a certain grain to it that is just perfect for a death metal band - Incantation with a bit more expense on production - I suppose that goes without saying when you've got the guy behind Metallica behind YOU.
The opener "In Skinless Form" is one of those tracks that you'll find yourself rewinding back and back to your favorite riffs. (01:39) It has a groovy feel not too uncommon these days with death metal acts - but it's something fresh nonetheless - hell, the whole album is.
The album goes through a few motions that do not go easily unnoticed. The second track "Flag Of Our Fathers" seemingly has but a few lyrics (take a guess!), but it's absolutely addictive. The one downside of this track being that you notice the played-out "inhale/exhale" vocals of the 21st century occurring. Toke's vocals are generally more interesting than this. (I'm not very familiar with prior releases though - so who knows).
"Second To Nothing" - the only other track from this studio session - begins with a deceitful melodic riff quickly torn apart by one last final death metal ballad. The drums really shine on this track; sticking out AND blending amidst the grandeur. (04:29) The albums only solo begins to kick in and it is interesting how uninspired it really is - the song as a whole is mid-tempo and fits more seamlessly into the album itself than as a stand-alone track.
The final two tracks are from the "Clouded Restrainment" EP and I will hold off on any opinions on it other than that sonically you can't tell the difference between the two recording sessions. Right on!