Tuesday, 11 December 2012

SERPENTINE PATH - Serpentine Path (2012)

01  Arrows
02  Crotalus Horridus Horridus
03  Bats Amongst Heathens
04  Beyond the Dawn of Time
05  Obseletion
06  Aphelion
07  Compendium of Suffering
08  Only a Monolith Remains

Serpentine Path is a death-doom supergroup (formed in 2011) 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, released on September 11th 2012 via Relapse Records is more in the former category. Not to mention it bears as its face one of the neatest bits of cover art I've probably seen this year.

While the band might be drawing from the same fetid pool as Coffins and Hooded Menace, there's certainly less levity and – Last House on the Left nod aside – horror flick theatrics. This is serious stuff, and while you might be able to detect a whiff of gusto you nevertheless have cause to be very, very afraid.

From opener "Arrows" on, every single moment seems to have been slowly dredged up from the hadopelagic depths, each riff a weighty, slime-strewn thing that lands in your lap like some ancient Lovecraftian horror. All the while, Ryan Lipynsky's cloacal vocals gurgle like Satan's own duodenum as it passes a particularly truculent meal.

My only nitpicks are the off-hand way in which this record feels casual. Not that these artists didn't put in a strong effort because they did. But they don't sound quite like they pushed themselves beyond their comfort or capacity either. With a pedigree as strong as Serpentine Path's, one almost hopes for an immediate masterpiece. So while the songs are good: powerful, punishing, absorbing, perfectly balanced between death and doom; they also sound a bit standard, not quite breaking away from the glut this scene has recently perpetuated. I'm reminded of Vallenfyre, another death/doom supergroup with a strong record that pushes towards the front of the pack but doesn't quite push past it. As well as opener "Arrows", other highlights include; "Bats Amongst Heathens", "Obsoletion" and closer "Only A Monolith Remains".

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