Calling albums weird is usually bad practice. We operate within a genre that prides itself on being strange, even if many bands don’t actually deliver on the promise. However, avoiding the word when discussing SERDCE‘s fourth album, Timelessness, is impossible. That is because weird is not just an adjective for this band or a gimmick but a true commitment to exploring different paths, inroads and downright crazy intersections in the map of modern metal. Blending astoundingly touching vocals, brutal death metal instrumentals and jazz sinews, Timelessness is an album as equally rewarding as it is demanding.
Getting introductions out of the way with the epic ‘Into Shambhala‘, scored with moving guitars and strings, SERDCE get right to work as ‘Samadhi’ explodes into the distinct jazz/death metal combination that will guide us throughout the album. Straight away the comparison to Cynic, which has been made in many places, springs to mind. But do not make the mistake of judging this as a knock off or cheap imitation. SERDCE’s unique blend of jazz is much faster at this point than Cynic ever were, never settling down for a comfortable chorus or verse. The vocals are also an interesting divergence point, with a more abrasive coloring added to the growls.
Even more surprisingly however, as we near the middle of the track, the comparison shifts towards none other than Dream Theater, with guitars, keyboards and drums all working together in blistering unison. It is important to point out that perhaps the single most gratifying aspect of Timelessness is the bass. Its fretless sound is of course derived from the aforementioned Cynic, but it is utilized in a wholly original way. Instead of providing solid basis for the rest of the instruments, it rides right alongside them, taking part in whatever crazy maneuver is currently being executed. This lends a thickness of sound to even the quickest of riffs, solos or lines.
All the different facets of ‘Samadhi’ are explored in different way during the next few track. But the ending to Timelessness is where this album is raised from the rank and file of the brilliant year we’ve had so far. Launching with ‘The Sixth Sense’ and ‘Unique Path’, SERDCE begin to work in doublets. The second doublet, the high point of the album, is in the tension building phrases of ‘Quasar’ and their resolution in the audacious saxophone solo opening of ‘Newborn’. With its haunting electronics and contained guitars, ‘Quasar’ is a condensed version of all the tracks before it. ‘Newborn’ harnesses that energy and escalates it into epic proportions before subsiding again.
This sets the stage for the closing track, ‘Magic Rain’. It leaves us with a return to the beginning of the album, with dreamier guitars and vocals. Timelessness then ends where it begins: a deceptively calm plateau that leaves one looking back at all that has passed, breathless. This album, intense and intelligent, is a meandering path through the heights and vales, emotion and intense technicality of the juncture between death metal and progressive. It knows when to cut deep and when to pull back and award the intent listener with a full view of the sounds being presented, while never sacrificing a true devotion to weird.
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SERDCE – Timelessness