Terrifying yet magnificent horror from a group getting doom metal so very right.
Alex Deller 2012
If there's one group who should be able to get doom metal right, it has to be this terrifying new act.
Serpentine Path features members of criminally-overlooked psych-metal oddities Unearthly Trance and one Tim Bagshaw, a transplanted Englishman who cut his teeth with doom overlords Electric Wizard and has since been terrorizing the countryside with occult weirdoes Ramesses.
While these three bands always deliver(ed) heavy by the barrel-load, their experimentation and stupefying psychedelia is missing here, thus ensuring Serpentine Path is a rather different beast. This is a mutant breed of doom metal that's less informed by the traditional, blues-imbued heaviosity of Black Sabbath, more the lurch ‘n’ stumble of death metal acts like Autopsy and the moribund atmospherics of NYC titans Winter.
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.
Despite being resolutely punishing the album is also curiously compact, the band eschewing the tendency of many modern doom dullards to drag out their songs purely because that's what Sleep and Corrupted did.
Instead, Serpentine Path mete out their pain in measured doses, the songs given just enough time to encircle your throat and pull tight even when – like the positively brisk Aphelion – they might not last longer than three or four minutes.
While the pedigree of those involved will doubtless lure in genre fans, doom fanatics might be surprised at the world of magnificent horror before them. This is a startling debut, and with Winter's Stephen Flam now onboard as second guitarist we can doubtless expect even deeper, darker tombs to be plundered when their second LP oozes forth.