15 April 2019


It's great to have Usurper back. The ancient feeling and the 80s metal spirit that runs through the veins of these old school metallers from Chicago is stronger than ever. Good proof of this is the magnificent "Lords of the Permafrost" LP.  Answers here were given by Dan Tyrantor (vocals) and Rick Scythe (guitars). Read on...Beyond the Walls of Ice.

“Lords Of The Permafrost” was released on March 22nd through Soullseller Records. When the title track was premiered I thought it was awesome, I was hooked after the first 5 seconds of the dark heavy opening riff, classic and crushing Usurper style. Tell us about the creation of this new LP. 14 years have passed since his previous album, so I would like to know details of the songwriting process. How long did it take to complete the whole album? Did anything change in your method of composing and arranging the new songs?
Dan Tyrantor: Rick Scythe reactivated Usurper to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Diabolosis album for a show in Chicago. The response was amazing. We then began writing what would ultimately become Lords Of The Permafrost. As for the songwriting, it was the same. Rick will outline the song with some sinister riffs, Joe Warlord adds the thunder, Scott does something with the bass, and then either Rick or myself will write lyrics, and occasionally collaborate.
The new tracks sounds brutal, and as I said before it has the classical Usurper trademark, powerful riffs, brutality, old school vibe and musicianship. Does the rest of the songs follow the same direction? Is there any difference between this new album and its predecessors? Tell us your own vision of the new material.
DT:  It feels, to me, like a cross between Cryptobeast, and Skeletal Season. What it is for sure, is an Usurper album from start to finish. 
Please, explain us the lyrical concept behind “Lords Of The Permafrost”. The press release said that the lyrics explore topics such as monster folklore, the paranormal and other obscure tales. Something outstanding and characteristic in your lyrics, like the two historical stories, the tracks “Shadowfiend” and “Wolflord”' from Skeletal Season, also “Dismal Wings Of Terror”, which deals with the "Mothman", so I'm very curious to know what each song on the album is about…
DT: The title of the album, and the song deals with the Native American legend of the wendigo. "Cemetary Wolf" evokes the tale of the seventh son and lycanthropy. "Mutants of the Iron Age" was inspired by an acheological discovery of animals sewn together, some with extra limbs or heads in an apparent attempt to create mutated creatures. "Skull Splitter" is about the barbarian invasion of Rome in the early 5th century, "Gargoyle" is a song about all of us Metalheads out there like gargoyles. Hard as Hell, and frightening to “normal” people. "Warlock Moon" is about ascending to the astral plane and exploring dark magic.
Lycanthropy is a very present theme in your lyrics, apart from Wolflord and Shadowfiend, there are also the songs Lycanthropic, in Twilight dominion, Return of the werewolf by Cryptobeast, and in this new album is the song Cemetery Wolf, What do you find most appealing about lycanthropy? Where does the interest and inspiration come from this topic? Name your fave film and book about lycanthropy?
DT: I’m fascinated with werewolf tales in any style, to be honest. From old ancient texts and passed down folklore to the shittiest VHS werewolf movies ever made. My favorite movie is still An American Werewolf In London. The transformation scenes were the most convincing at the time. Both the book and the movie Wolfen are pretty great too.
Another great thing is the visual aspect, the album covers are very cool. How is the process usually when choosing the art for the album? Tell me about his new winged, skeletal beast and also about your favorite Usurper album cover.
Rick Scythe: Thanks. I always draw a lot an contribute artwork and ideas. Lately I have been painting quite a bit too. I used one of my paintings for the inside booklet and clear disc tray for the CD / Label of side B for the LP.
As for the Lords of the Permafrost cover concept. It is a hybrid creature to represent many different song concepts on the album. Sort of like the Wendigo, or a creature from Mutants of the Iron Age. Also has some similarities to a Gargoyle. It is sort of a marker warning people not to go Beyond the Walls of Ice. It sits under the Warlock Moon.
As for my favorite Usurper artwork. It depends, I like all the covers after Threshold of the Usurper. Skeletal Season might still be my favorite, but I like them all. The same artist, Juha Vuorma who did Skeletal Season also did Lords of the Permafrost painting.
Do you have plans to make a promotional video clip? (Return Of The Werewolf was cool!) How should it be the perfect video for a Usurper song?
RS: So far we only have a basic lyric video for the song, “Lords of the Permafrost”. I want to do a promo video for, “Beyond the Walls of Ice” but we have to wait until it snows again.
Let´s talk about your early days, what are your memories of the band´s formation and the recording of the “Visions from the gods” demo. Also, what are your memories from the scene back then?
RS: It was weird, but fun. In the USA everyone was claiming “metal is dead”. Even the Big 4: Metallica cut their hair and dressed all fancy. Anthrax sort of copied Metallica into alternative music. Megadeth put out some non-metal sounding stuff. Even Slayer did like a modern Korn version of Slayer. Even in the underground, classic first wave thrash/black metal bands were breaking up or changing their style. We just wanted to be extremely metal in a time when people said metal was dead. We loved metal and hated alternative, industrial or emo music. We wanted to do the opposite of that style. We were one of the only bands, if not the only band in the USA doing this style.
It was the early 90s, when a lot of bands started playing black metal, were you interested in the black metal scene? Are there bands from that old god days that you respect and like?
RS: I thought some bands were cool, as long as it sounded like 80’s black metal. We often got lumped in with black metal in the mid 90’s because of our image and certain elements, but we never considered Usurper to be black metal.
What, in your eyes, differs the US scene from the European Scene? Do you miss anything from the old scene?
RS: European scene was always more passionate then the USA when we fisrt toured Europe in 1998. Now, I’m not sure. Europe has more festivals, but USA more kids are into this style than were back in the early/mid 90’s.
Do you remember how were the conversations with head Not Found, and the deal for the release of “Diabolosis…”?
RS: Metalian, “I like Usurper a lot. I would be interested in putting out your album.” Usurper, “Cool, let’s do it.”  Then in 1995 it came out.
I have Diabolosis (R.I.P Records) and Skeletal Season (Merciless Records) LPs, both vinyl are awesome releases, I bought them when they came out and I liked the whole design, it was clear that you put emphasis in the details. What is the most prevalent in your collection? Are there any or some that you consider special?
RS: Thanks. I love those 2 versions as well. I love gatefold LP’s. Both RIP and Merciless did great jobs. Skeletal Season LP is my favorite though. Lords of the Permafrost Blue LP is the best now.
Why did you use different designs for the CD and LP versions? In my opinion the LP looks much better. Do you remember why you chose it?
RS: I agree. The LP is much better. That was what we wanted, but we didn’t have access to that cover in time for the CD release so we just ripped off something close from an art book. I dislike the CD cover and if I have my way, if it is released again on CD, I want to use the LP cover art.
Why “Deep in the forest” wasn´t included in the LP version? It's one of my favorite tracks, it was included later in the “Visions from the gods” compilation (I still have to get that vinyl, though is quite difficult nowadays, aaarrrgh). A special edition on 7" with that killer track would not have been bad (you're still on time, just an idea ha ha)
RS: Deep in the Forest kicks ass, but we didn’t want to have every song from the demo. We wanted to keep the demo special.
King Diamond and Proscriptor McGovern did guest vocals on Necronemesis, who did come up with the idea of this guest appearances? What was it like working with them? If you had to choose only one album of King Diamond / Mercyful Fate and one of Absu, what would you choose?
RS: We liked both Absu’s and King Diamond’s latest albums when we were about to record our next album. Necropolis Records asked where we wanted to record. We looked on back of both albums and both were recorded at Nomad Studios with producer, Kol Marshall. So we told Necropolis that is where we wanted to record, and we wanted Kol to produce out album.
Proscriptor agreed to do backing vocals from the start. King Diamond was a bit different. The owner of the studio called before we left for Texas and said, “Rick, we got a problem. King Diamond is finishing his album House of God and needs a couple extra days to finish mixing. He said if we can bump your days, King will sing on your album.” I was like, “Fuck yeah! No problem”. Still a highlight to this day.
I would like to know your opinion of the current music industry, or if you prefer, you can tell me about the positive aspects of the current scene and the new bands that have caught your attention.
RS: I haven’t bought an album since 2003.
DT: I honestly don’t listen to much newer music, or go to many shows.
What are the tour plans to promote Lords Of The Permafrost?
DT: Right now we are going to be headlining Spring Bash in Milwaukee, playing a one-off headline show at St. Vitus bar in NYC, and the 2020 Turkulu Sataanalle Fest in Finland. As of this interview, we are in the process of finalizing some other shows.
Among so many concerts in your career maybe you have some good anecdote that you want to share.
DT: Somebody once smashed a glass ashtray in their hotel room bathroom, and then shit all over it. I’m not saying who, but it was Joe.
What´s the strangest place and the most shocking place you have been? 
DT: For me, the strangest place was playing in the basement of a bagel shop. Shocking was the outdoor sculpture park in Oslo. There was supposed to be a gigantic statue of an angry baby that towered over the whole city, but in actuality, it was only 3 feet tall. I’m still very upset about it.
What will be the next steps for the band, do you plan to work soon on new compositions? (at least I hope it does not take another 14 years until the next album)
DT: We are trying to play in as many places as we can right now. Haha, I don’t think it will take that long again.
Thanks you for your time, last words are yours...
DT: Thanks for the interview!