October 9, 2012 | , | 4.5

Serpentine Path, Serpentine Path

Serpentine Path: Serpentine Path

This may be Serpentine Path’s debut self-titled album, but this band is by no means a bunch of noobs. Comprised of all three members of Unearthly Trance as well as Electric Wizard’s founding guitarist, Tim Bagshaw, these dudes have some serious street cred behind them. Their pedigree is clearly evident almost immediately after the first few seconds of opening track, “Arrows.” And have no fear, this ain’t Unearthly Trace part two or anything. This is a beast solely of its own creation.

It’s not too often that doom metal comes across as absolutely evil like this crushing album delivers. Most doom albums I receive tend to have a defiantly stoner or goth vibe to them. This is the first that comes to mind that is unadulteratedly vile and, without a doubt, is in a league with Satan. “Arrows” starts things off with a brief sound byte before massive walls of buzzed-out riffs arrive with little fanfare other than rumbling bass and barbaric drums. The vocals are delivered as guttural growls that match the crawling pace of the music well. There’s an underlying, seething bit of melody that creeps in periodically. This opening song not only does a nice job introducing the band, but also sets the atmosphere of decaying flesh, the inevitable onset of rigor mortis and the upheaval of flesh and tissue as it’s voraciously consumed by millions of maggots, beetles and what have you.

“Crotalus Horridus Horridus” (otherwise known as the timber rattlesnake) carried the death metal inspired doom along at a glacially destructive path. This song is dark, heavy and ferocious. Ryan Lipynsky’s vocals on this track are pretty damned badass, especially the violently belched growls that he throws in as accents here and there. “Bats Amongst Heathens” is just as viciously performed by Lipynsky as Bagshaw’s guitars slither between monolithic riffs and wavering melody. As dark, moody and doomy as this songs are there’s a tremondous amount of groove flowing through each song’s crawling pace. “Beyond the Dawn of Time” could very well be the slowest moving, most barren and simplistic song on the disc. Needless to say, I love it. “Obsoletion” has some great drum and guitar work that stands out nicely before the band dive into the next track.

Easily one of my favorite tracks, “Aphelion” delivers the goods with a bit more of a up-tempo gallop, swirling leads, churning riffs and monster groove will this relatively short (in comparison) song. It’s got a bit of a swagger to it. My other favorite song on Serpentine Path is the closer, “Only a Monolith Remains.” It summarizes and encompasses everything the band has delivered on the previous seven songs into a single churning mass of doom.

Knowing the stoner-vibe of Electic Wizard and the unpredictable nature of unearthly Trance, what I’m hearing here on Serpentine Path’s debut is anything but a simple blend of the previous two bands. The doom on this album is not only thick and monolithic, it’s also violent and evil. I’m not sure what these guys have planned for future releases, but if they keep this up, they are going to own the doom/death genre with ease.