Serpentine Path’s new album, “Emanations”, is surely one of the darkest sounding albums of 2014. And that’s no surprise, given that the band (or to those who specialize in underground extreme metal, “supergroup”) are made up of members from the rawly dismal Ramesses and Unearthly Trance amongst others. As if Serpentine Path’s debut was grim, soul-destroyingly dire enough, “Emanations” defines the very necessities of doom-laden, hate-ridden music.
Although there’s not much in the way of stand-alone tracks or a penchant for creating perfectly accessible song structures, the music on “Emanations” is unrelentingly dark and dismal. These are two words which will spring to mind when the monstrous opening guitar tones of songs like ‘Essence of Heresy’ and ‘Claws’ reach your ears, and it’s made ever more miserable by the death-ridden vocal delivery and the blood-churning instrumentation. The longer songs such as ‘Treacherous Waters’ and closer ‘Torment’ perpetuate this distinctly sludgy musical style, but there is often also room for each instrument to breathe, at times even invoking lashings of keyboard-led background music amidst the crushing display of death/doom metal. The guitar work itself mostly seems to be based around that of early Incantation and Suffocation, two bands which never seemed to climb out of a pit of aural darkness, and this is more than evident from Serpentine Path’s riff-based sound in general. This is essentially why “Emanations” is as raw-sounding and dismal as it is, because the band seem to have chosen the right influences to perform such a musical style.
However, given that the musicianship is somewhat one-dimensional (and that’s problematic enough for those who expect more complex music), “Emanation” can often become too monotonous if you’re not paying proper attention to what’s going on. The majority of songs here are longer than they should it be, or so it seems at first listen. Surprisingly enough, the songs which are affected most by this are the shorter ones, and it’s almost as if the lengthy likes of ‘Torment’ are all the better because of that. The main problem here is how little Serpentine Path actually do to make songs like opener ‘Essence of Heresy’ and ‘House of Worship’ even more interesting than they actually are, and that’s basically why “Emanations” doesn’t begin as it was probably intended to. The other flaw here is the fact that there aren’t any stand-out tracks for the listener to deem in any way memorable, and it’s this distinct lack of catchiness which lets Serpentine Path’s latest album down a bit.
That said, “Emanations” does bring to mind the best bits of sludge and death/doom metal, even if there’s nothing in the way of accessibility or memorable musicianship. Serpentine Path’s instrumental performance appears primitive to an unknowing listener, but a closer listen will reveal only more of the dismal, raw energy seeping its way into the recording of all seven songs. Therefore, if you’re into the darkest extreme metal available, this is definitely for you. Those who crave more energetic or complex music however should turn away.
Released: May 27th, 2014.
1. Essence of Heresy
2. House of Worship
3. Treacherous Waters
5. Disfigured Colossus
6. Systematic Extinction