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Album Review: SERPENT CORPSE Blood Sabbath

9 Reviewer

It takes a lot to restore my confidence in new-old-school death metal. For the last 10 years we've been practically drowning in HM-2 pedals, vintage longsleeve T-shirts, and Dan Seagrave-style artwork, so it's hard not to feel a little short on air (and patience) when it comes to this music. However, this new album from Montreal's Serpent Corpse truly stands out as death metal of the highest quality, giving the style a much needed shot of vitality.

One sonic aspect that sets the album apart is the production treatment of Andrew Haddad's vocals. His voice is thick and harsh, a cross between Thomas Gabriel Warrior's legendary "Ugh" and the commanding delivery of Vader's Peter Wiwczarek. This sits atop the band's nourishing brew of Entombed and various other influences. In their press info, Serpent Corpse name-checks Darkthrone's Soulside Journey as a key inspiration, and you can definitely hear this in the riff structure. There's a faint hint of thrash and crossover as well, particularly in the transitions from one section of a song to the next.

This crushing-yet-atmospheric sound lands particularly well on the album's slower numbers, like the excellent "Let the Rats Feed." In a less interesting band's hands, this could very easily turn into a snorefest, but Serpent Corpse harness all of their destructive powers to make it an absolute banger. Thus it's also true on "Land of Rot and Misfortune," the song that perhaps most conspicuously shows the band's thrashy side, with a bridge practically written for the circle pit.

Aside from these songs, the band is most comfortable in the D-beat mid-range. And they do this very well on tracks like "Electric Eye" and "Crucifixion Shrine." On the one hand, it would have been cool to hear the drums blast away and add that speed-demon dimension. On the other hand, however, the band's approach to tempo does give the album a lot of cohesion and holds everything together nicely.

On the whole, the album is a consistent and enjoyable death metal seance. I also appreciated how the guitars sounded similar to the HM-2 pedal sound but that the band didn't simply parrot the exact sound from Left Hand Path (hoping no one would notice). That serves as a useful metaphor for the entire album. It's a sound steeped in the glory days of 1987 to 1993, but gives you something to be stoked about for 2023 as well.

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