Serpents Lair "Circumambulating The Stillborn"

Atmosphere.  Not the thing that maintains life on the planet, no the dense and omnipotent presence that exists on this record is a thing of beauty and horror at the same time.  The ritual emanations of opening track (proper) "Epistemology of Death" spread themselves wraith like around you but never overwhelm you as a listener, choosing instead to tease you and encircle your peripheral vision as if some cold promise to the potential they have.

The structure present on "Circumambulating the Stillborn" is extraordinary.  Delivering the extreme and melodic capabilities of the band perfectly over the largely lengthy running times.  The title track is a perfect example of this yet manages to deliver in just over five minutes.  Five minutes of well balanced and intelligently delivered BM that holds the attention so well you could be forgiven it is twice the actual length.

I remember the bands demo "Demo MMXIV" from May of last year, I jumped in for a purchase after one listen commenting on Bandcamp at the time of the potential that existed over the two tracks on offer (one of them opens this album I am pleased to report).  There's obvious development from the demo too. The build to "Mortui Vivos Ducent" reminds me of some occult offering from Grave Miasma as it layers in atmosphere before unleashing itself like a furious beast from Hades.  Vocally I am often reminded of Cultes Des Ghoules yet at times the riffs remind me of the tech edge of Ulcerate.  It all builds into a varied and expansive experience as the album rolls along.  You think you have it pinned down to a particular direction or sound and then something new seeps in and you are back scratching your bonce again, wondering what is next.

There is something oddly comforting in the start of "The Serpentine Gnosis", even when it takes off on a scathing ride over a harsh BM landscape you have no doubt you want to be there as you cling on for dear life.  Production wise I think they have managed to retain that "trve" ritualistic atmosphere yet still retain the actual sound of the riffs.  There is never a point were anything gets lost in the sound (I can even follow the bass) and there is a real sense of cohesion in the record as a whole.

It is all here.  Dissonance aplenty, layers of atmosphere, expansive structures and enough harrowing vocals to make a Samaritan Helpline operator end it all.  I can only sit and wait in anticipation of future releases from Serpents Lair as their debut full length has done a great job of setting the foundations of a very promising future.

4/5

"Circumambulating the Stillborn" is available here.

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