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Serpentine Path : Serpentine Path

'Superband' Serpentine Path's manifesto is simple but the execution exceedingly professional.

A death-doom supergroup supercharged with members of Electric Wizard, Ramesses, the now-defunct Unearthly Trance and The Howling Wind, this is the stuff extremely memorable debuts and colossal disappointments are made of. Fortunately this self-titled slab of granite is more in the former category. Not to mention it bears as its face one of the neatest bits of cover art I've seen this year.

After a poorly chosen bible quote to open - the old one about the number of the beast... that book is full of lunacy and violence, surely there are other options - the sluggish beast that is Serpentine Path makes known their intent. The variously blackened and stoned ghosts of the members' other projects are almost non-existent, with a drawling, chugging death-doom sound being the album's core and carapace. The manifesto is simple but the execution exceedingly professional, drawing on the influence of bands from Winter and Thorr's Hammer to the rougher production and edge of Coffins and Tim Bagshaw's Ramesses. In fact it would make a nice continuation to Take The Curse if Ramesses' recent, psychedelic output didn't feel too natural to you (I liked it).

Ryan Lipynsky is a hell of a guy in my opinion, his lyrics slathering out in classic death grunts, with as much meat on them as a rare steak served in a French restaurant. Guitarists Tim Bagshaw and Stephen Flam opt for crushing, oppressive guitar sounds, patient riffs with not much new to say dominating the proceedings, the focus being on build and atmosphere. They still do a good job of maintaining the crunch necessary for a form of the genre that is still mid-paced and deliberate compared to its funeral doom incarnations. There are a few disconcerting, wailing leads in the tradition of gloomy Finnish death metal, and diSEMBOWELMENT and such, and some outrageous, blaring leads on a song like 'Obsoletion'. Very nice. Clattering, heavy drums, naturally, and if you know Unearthly Trance you know what to expect from Darren Verni. I wouldn't have him sounding any other way, personally. Great sound, heavy distortion and reverb.

It's the old, crud-splattered, grim kind of doomed, deathlike doom-death, aching slow marches that erupt every very once in a while into Coffins-like rocking bursts or cadaverously shambling mid-paced areas, before collapsing again into the familiar quagmire of repetitive doom. So good. What I like about it though is that, outside of some similiarities in tone to Ramesses, and a lack of surprises from Verni (again, still sounds awesome), the musicians here are generally doing something more than extrapolating upon their usual activities in their main bands. The sound is unexpected for these particular gents, albeit generally well-fitted to an established heritage. Up there competing with The Slow Death and Evoken for the doom-death outing of 2012.

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Reviewer's rating: Unrated


Tracklist :
1. Arrows
2. Crotalus Horridus Horridus
3. Bats Amongst Heathens
4. Beyond the Dawn of Time
5. Obsoletion
6. Aphelion
7. Compendium of Suffering
8. Only a Monolith Remains

Duration : Approx. 42 minutes

Visit the Serpentine Path bandpage.

Reviewed on 2012-10-09 by doom-metal.com
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