02. Crotalus Horridus Horridus
03. Bats Amongst Heathens
04. Beyond The Dawn Of Time
07. Compendium Of Suffering
08. Only A Monolith Remains
Sludge and doom can often go hand in hand. Both have very similar stylistic values and their live shows are very similar, with loud guitars downtuned beyond normal string gauges, a wall of amps (usually Sunn), and epic-length songs. Enter new sludge/doom band Serpentine Path, a band featuring members of Unearthly Trance and Electric Wizard. Coming from such a pedigree should lend credibility and confidence in their prowess in the genre, but would they live up to all the hype?
The answer is a very firm “almost.” This is one of the most aggravating albums to ever come across as a listener searching for that “special something” that sets it apart from the numerous sludge and/or doom albums that it parallels. It’s one of those albums that will have the listener going back time and time again; not for its amazing songs, but to make a decision as to whether or not the album is even relevant. While they may not find what they are looking for, there are definitely ups and downs to this record. The biggest plus about this record is the fact that it doesn’t stick to one paradigm. It also has a very smooth mix for an album this heavy, meaning that nothing feels compressed or clipped. Although nothing can ever be perfect, this comes very close. All the tones sound right and everything meshes really nicely in one cohesive package.
However, this coherency very well nears the point of annoyance. Serpentine Path offers little to no variance or versatility at all throughout the record. Songs come and go, but they all sound shockingly similar to each other. Another aspect about this record that makes it such a disappointment is that the musicians on the record never really take any chances with songwriting or instrumentation. While doom isn’t necessarily the place for ‘showoffy’ musicianship, it would have been nice to hear a catchy bass lick or a killer drum fill every once in a while.
What makes this lack of overall gusto even more damning is that it’s a debut record. It takes a lot for bands to make a great first impression these days, and if this were an EP, it might have been a tad more acceptable; but this record was thoroughly average from start to finish. It wasn’t underwhelming, but nor was it overwhelming. It wasn’t amazing, but it wasn’t really terrible, either. None of the songs are really that memorable, except for the Sabbath worship in ‘Aphelion,’ but even then, it sounds like discarded riffs from Master of Reality. In order for a band to really gain momentum, in any genre, they have to “WOW” the audience and give them memorable songs to come back to. Sadly, this record did neither.
Serpentine Path is simply unremarkable. They have the potential to do some really great things, but as of right now, they have yet to find their niche. Hopefully for their sophomore album — if they decide to put one out — they can experiment a little more and begin to find that “special element” that makes them draw audiences from all over the globe. They may just have to dig a little deeper than originally planned. Until then, this record — at least for this reviewer — will only be put on when the “shuffle” function is on.
Serpentine Path – Serpentine Path gets…