Hailing from the Pacific Northeast, Usnea follow up their self-titled debut with their Relapse debut, Random Cosmic Violence. Only having been conceived since 2011, they’re already a formidable force in a so called “doom revival” that’s happening as of late, with The US arguably being at the forefront of the movement.
Signing to the aforementioned label is kind of a big deal, so can the album live up to the hype that comes with this territory? We’ll see.
Setting an eerie tone right from the get go, you get the feeling that this is going to be a bumpy ride. When the album kicks in at full force, the wall of noise is like being overrun by a stampede of ill-tempered sloths, much power, much slow. As the distorted maelström builds, the air becomes awesomely bleak, and the harsh vocals of Justin Cory drill into your brain like the cerebral bore from the acclaimed Turok series, shredding through brain matter like a hot knife trough butter. It hurts so good.
‘Healing Through Death’ sets to work on that super deep foundation laid by ‘Lying n Ruin’, and builds an almighty obelisk of sound. Although the riffs aren’t to memorable, the brute force of them split your skull open like a sledgehammer to a watermelon, then reforms the splattered brain matter to repeat to process over and over. It reminds me of what would happen if you slowed the pace Converge to that of a snail,the intensity is still there, it’s just more bumbling in nature.
Usnea do have a softer side, the beginning of the album’s title track is pleasantly serene, and is oddly desert like in a way. But that all changes as you progress through. The pace steadily gathers momentum,to the point of almost morphing in black metal, the progression to get there is like a mini journey on its own,and one I wasn’t expecting in the slightest. The journey back initially becomes more intricate, its massive doom riffs galore as you venture into ‘Detritus’.
The massive finale slows down even more, yet the slower it gets, the angrier it gets, grinding into one of the most cataclysmic stops imaginable. Like the asteroid that killed the dinosaurs, the casualties are innumerable in its wake. This journey towards mass extinction isn’t exactly a smooth one, but if like a bit of doom on your corn flakes, then it’s worth taking the plunge into that everlasting abyss.
As the nights grow darker and colder, it’s obvious that one’s music preferences become a lot more gloomy. So being introduced to Usnea couldn’t of came at a better time really, Random Cosmic Violence is that void which matches the mood as we approach the brow of winter. It’s going to get miserable, so why not have a soundtrack to accompany that misery. That’s my theory anyway.