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Usnea: Portals into Futility

Usnea's third album finds inspiration in a handful of science fiction and fantasy novels that resonate with the current state of the world. These novels include Shadow of the Torturer by Gene Wolfe, Lathe of Heaven by Ursula LeGuin, Valis by Philip K. Dick, Demon Haunted World by Carl Sagan (a work of non-fiction, actually), and Dune by Frank Herbert. It would be awesome to listen to this album with each of those books rattling around in my head. I'm not quite ready to do that, I love the idea of an album that wrestles with the world as it is and as it is represented in a series of books. It's important, I think, to explore a wide variety of questions by drawing on an even wider variety of sources. Answers never come easy, but there's a great deal to learn from creative people of all stripes. What these sources have in common has to do with human weakness and its tendency toward self-destruction. Usnea sees a parallel between dystopian art and today's world precisely because we could easily find ourselves in similarly awful circumstances.

Despite its sad themes, this album is as beautiful as it is haunting. The closing track, "A Crown of Desolation" is Usnea at their very best. The song, nearly twenty minutes long, gathers all the elements that make this album great and delivers something that is both epic and melancholy. It stays with me after each listen. "Pyrrhic Victory" is another wonderful song about the ways things don't always turn out as planned. Those were my favorite tracks by far. Fortunately, the other tracks are just as good as these closing tracks. The album opens well with "Eidolons and the Increate" and "Lathe of Heaven."Coming in the middle is "Demon Haunted World, " a song that handles the problems of human belief.

Usnea is technically a doom metal band, but it's impossible to listen to this album and think strictly in terms of subgenres. There's plenty of sludge here and I think Usnea plays well with the funeral doom crowd, too. This is a highly recommended new release from a terrific band. If you listen to it, you'll not only hear some great music, you may also get some good book recommendations. That's not a bad deal.

Track Listing:
1. Eidolons and the Increate
2. Lathe of Heaven
3. Demon Haunted World
4. Pyrrhic Victory
5. A Crown of Desolation

Added: September 30th 2017
Reviewer: Carl Sederholm
Score:
Related Link: Band Facebook Page
Hits: 258
Language: english

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