There’s this idea in metal circles that doom metal has to take its time, to lure its listeners in with its slowness. This is actually a more modern concept, born of the current sound of doom metal that was forged in, and has emerged from, the revival that the genre has been enjoying for the last ten years or so. This more modern concept possibly comes to us from the marriage (often blessed) of doom metal and psychedelia, creating more spacious and circumspect composition. But this mode doesn’t have to be the only approach which doom metal can take. In fact, when merged with sludge for example, there’s much to be said about large, hefty metal that starts kicking right from the first second.
Serpent Omega’s II, releasing this September, is a great example. From the first minute of the first track, the mighty “Orog Nuur”, Serpent Omega are on the attack. The main riff of “Orog Nuur”, backed by a massive bass line, is evidence enough; sure, the guitars are slow, but they’re also all focused on a pummeling sort of forward movement rather than contemplation, a taut fist hitting you in the stomach over and over again. The iron-clad knuckle duster around that fist are the vocals. Bursting forth from vocalist Urskogr’s throat, their raspy indignation is convincing and immediately evocative. Add in the grim lyrics, decrying the death of man and our world, and you have Serpent Omega’s full package.
Further down the line, some more punk influences are added into this mix. “Through the Gates” for example opens with this furious bass line, channeling immediate punk vibes that are prominent throughout the track. The vocals here serve the same role, embellishing the main thrust of “Through the Gates” with plenty of added violence and desperation. Throw in some blazing blast-beats further down the track and you have yourself a certified banger, sealing off the first half of the album with plenty of fuel still in the tank.
This is another difference between Serpent Omega and the more atmospheric mode of doom metal. Their brand of low and slow is constantly on, rarely taking a moment to rest until it hits the closing, ambient last track. This leads to a relatively short album for the genre, clocking in at under forty minutes. This works incredibly well with how engaging and demanding this album really is; it means that the slower riffs never overstay their welcome, channeling their groove and then disappearing in echoes while their power is still unspent. On the other hand, the faster riffs (like the almost thrash metal opening of “At the Mountains Edge”) don’t feel like throwaway ideas, unique enough in their presence that they feel essential and potent.
Over all, Serpent Omega show us that there is plenty of strength in doom and sludge metal that’s not all about a long build up or a sense of crushing atmosphere. Instead, by channeling ideas from punk and elsewhere, and by centering their impressive vocal line, Serpent Omega have created a fast, immediate, and powerful release. II is not for the contemplation of a world that is falling apart; it is for the rage and the violence that comes at its dying.
Serpent Omega’s II releases on September 4th. Head on over to their Bandcamp page above to pre-order it.