"Serpentine Path"

By Dr. Abner Mality

You will not hear a more convincing imitation of the world grinding to a halt than the debut of Serpentine Path. What this band does is not new but is done in such an overwhelming, engulfing fashion that you are simply blown away. This is a smothering blanket of death-tinged doom...the sound of towers falling and glaciers grinding their way towards the equator. It is doom incarnate.

The band containes Ramesses/ex Electric Wizard man Tim Bagshaw along with all three members of New York's tortured doom act Unearthly Trance. Right now I will tell you this is more devastating and focused than anything Unearthly Trance has done. The resemblances to Electric Wizard and early Ramesses are there, but any sense of groove or stonerism has been excised. No place for it in this grim world. The rumbling guitar tone helps immeasurably in making just about every note a crushing burden...the drums are both violent and leaden. Bagshaw's vocals drag like heavy chains across an ash-filled landscape. Everything contributes to the ponderous whole. Even the incredibly oppressive cover art.

Of course, an album like this is based on the potency of the riffing. If you don't bow in worship before monsters like "Crotalus Horridus Horridus" and "Bat Among Heathens", you are no metalhead. "Arrows" and "Aphelion" can't be called "up-tempo" but they have more forward thrust that the ultra-slow and massive likes of "Beyond Space And Time", which is hideously hypnotic with its repeated riffs, and also the aply titled "Compendium of Suffering". While there is no relief from the doom here, fortunately there's just enough difference between tracks for the record to avoid collapsing under its own weight.

You won't hear a more powerful death/doom record this year. You will walk the Serpentine Path until "Only A Monolith Remains"...