Norway and Sweden have always been in the first rank of European Black Metal. In the last decade Finland established itself as one of the leaders of the BM movement. In the last couple of years even Iceland astonished everyone with a set of defiant bands. And what about Denmark? Well, this year SERPENTS LAIR comes to reclaim a part of the Scandinavian attention.
After the ecclesiastic intro, one will find 42 min of refined Black Metal, in the veins of the somber bands that have taken over Europe in the last five years or so. “Circumambulating the Stillborn” starts by offering us an old depressive BM moment, in the veins of old Shining, filled with melancholy and despair in “Epistemology of Death”. But without losing the weight, the third track endures a Post BM / Sludge ode to a dark sickness, in a record full in variety of rhythms but all of them gathered upon one clear idea: a dark evangelic cult to Death.
The changes between strong heavy parts and softer doomish guitar introductions reminds us some of Medico Peste’s dementia, proving the wide range of “Circumambulating the Stillborn”. If the guitar work is what strikes you the most in a first audition, the fifth track (“The Serpentine Gnosis”) is a clear example of the perfect insane coordination between the drums diversity and the demented strong vocals. Having listened to dozens of recent works relating BM and doomier parts, Serpents Lair strikes us with their first full length given their capacity to compose at the same time a feeling of fear in the down-tempo interludes as well as a strong anger in the blast-beats moments. In that sense, “The Serpentine Gnosis” is the maximum ambassador of that art.
But this journey wouldn’t end before the sombre yet tranquilizing “Dwelling on the Treshold to Tartarus”, in a three minutes journey that anticipates the storm of sharp guitars, deconstructed bass and persistent drums of the final “Devouring Wrathe”. The consistent rhythm is only shaken by the demented vocals, that here approach the tunes of N.H. from Corpus Christii.
This Serpents Lair debut in long length works contains several approaches to some important underground BM references, but without sticking too much to each one of them. The final result turns out to be a very consistent album, catapulted directly to this year’s best of.