“The power of the riff compels you.” With technical metal and polished production the modus operandi of heavy music today, it is more than refreshing to receive something in the mailbox that could not be any further from the norm. Serpentine Paths’ sophomore album Emanations is 44 minutes of doom that brings with it an essence of evil not heard since the days of burnt churches and murdered band mates. Harrowing stuff for any fan of diabolical metal, regardless of its shortcomings.
The archaic doom of ‘House Of Worship’ sets the bar for the rest of this unholy offering from Relapse. The label has been instrumental in releasing some truly heavy records already this year, and this is yet another one. The opening track wastes no time proving that speed and technicality are no replacement for distortion and tritonal guitar riffs. While there may only be two or three riffs that make up the whole song, such is the case for several of the albums tracks, the rumbling bass that picks out root notes and the echoing, ghoulish vocals are but two elements that make Emanations such a heinous creation.
By the time ‘Treacherous Waters’ begins with its death metal approach to shoegaze there is no hiding from the deliberately simple drums. Though nothing here is flashy in its execution, the churning of double bass and presence of an organ low down in the mix create a most appropriate atmosphere. Jam this track with your headphones on in the dark and prepare to be pulled under with your lungs arrested of breath. Serpentine Path have a clear understanding of matching their music to the lyrical and thematic content, with ‘Claws’ scraping skin from bone with it’s reoccurring motifs and three chord riffs.
Emanations is a sludge slathered doom album from start to finish, and the run time may put off some who find their attention wavering already when ‘Disfigured Colossus’ comes around. The lack of any real shifts in tempo from song to song along with a reliance on extended outros of feedback can make the record feel like a live set. This is slightly detrimental as the songs tend to bleed into each other, losing some of their momentum along the way. Thankfully closing tracks ‘Essence Of Heresy’ and ‘Torment’ include extravagant lead guitar work that saves them from detuned obscurity. These rare forays into the higher end of the fretboard alleviate the monotony that comes with the territory of doom metal.
The members of Serpentine Path (including current and former members of Electric Wizard, Ramesses and Unearthly Trance) have pooled together their collective back catalogs of material to brew up an altogether Satanic sound. With production helmed by bassist Jay Newman, Emanations is the culmination of years of experience within the genres of stoner, doom and sludge metal. Emanations teases at becoming truly evil, only being held back the uniform nature of doom and its attention sapping run time. If doomgaze is to become a thing, the path has been paved for many others to stand with eyes rolling in the back of heads, churning out a soundtrack that the Dark Lord could happily sit back and smoke up to.
Serpentine Path’s Emanations gets…