Serpentine Path "Emanations" - Album Review
"Emanations" was released today and after an agonising wait for a release to follow up 2012's excellent self titled debut, proof that good things come to those who wait is very much evident. It's a monolithic slab of crushing doom riffs and well paced death metal. The size of the sound of the riffs on tracks like (album opener) "Essence of Heresy" and "Systemic Extinction" is mind boggling. The addition of a second guitarist is a definite step in the right direction. Yet, somehow the wall of riffs never gets overwhelming, it all appears to be well balanced and put together in a very mature and sensible manner.
The whole album feels like there is a serious agenda going on with lyrics on the subject of religion and human survival taking an obvious front seat. The vocal delivery sounds clearer this time around whilst still retaining that familiar menacing edge so recognisable on the debut. The production overall is still murky enough to please bottom-dwellers whilst at no point does it smother any of the sound. The groove and melody evident on opening track "Essence of Heresy" is obvious and welcome as a real indicator of how the band has developed it's sound with the addition of a second 6 string.
Much is always made of the fact that Serpentine Path is some "super-group" made up of ex/current members of Unearthly Trance, Electric Wizard, Ramesses and Winter and for me there is a real danger that fans will go searching for the sound of one or all of those bands in the dirge of dark noise that is "Emanations". The point is that Serpentine Path aren't trying to be anybody else other than themselves, and whilst no rule book exists through no window you can't deny the straightforward delivery and precise relevance of the sound of "Emanations". Yeah we should recognise the members achievements as band members elsewhere but at the same time not use those achievements as weights around their necks.
"Emanations" is the sound of a band making no excuses or apologies for being themselves. They have written and released the album that they wanted to make and share with listeners. It's familiar without being predictable. It's stitched together with enough variety of threads to hold the whole structure together without every trying to be flash or cocksure. Check out the tidal wash of the sound on "Treacherous Waters" or the snappy pace changes on "Torment" to hear exactly what Eminent Silence is talking about.
"Emanations" is available now via Relapse Records.