Serpentine Path

Serpentine Path

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Though Unearthly Trance officially disbanded in July 2012, following five largely rewarding albums, the members of this Long Island trio actually had no intention of going their separate ways. Instead, they had already taken steps to partner with one-time Electric Wizard bassist and Ramesses guitarist Tim Bagshaw, and forge a brand new entity named Serpentine Path. So within months of the aforementioned "breakup" announcement, the material collaborated on by the quartet was ready to be issued through Unearthly Trance's final label home, Relapse Records. How convenient. And, perhaps predictably, perhaps not so much, this new endeavor sees all involved returning to the founding death/doom ideals that originally inspired them: the kind of songs so unforgiving and misanthropic that they virtually scream "STAY AWAY!" at the very music-buying public willing to turn its glare upon them. To that end, all eight of these tracks are effectively built to punish and dismay; to a man, they saddle largely dragging tempos with varying clusters of rumbling, downtuned riffs, then cap them with putrid, throat-rupturing growls intoning poems of utter despair. At most, Serpentine Path will refract a few weak rays of light off these desiccated song husks -- for example the momentary bell-like psychedelic reverberations of "Crotalus Horridus Horridus," fleeting lead guitar wails of "Obsoletion," and splash of psychedelic synthesizer effects for "Compendium of Suffering." But that's really the extent of Serpentine's mercy -- all else is unmitigated sonic abuse. Phew! If this is their idea of a good time, just imagine what these old friends get up to (or, perhaps more appropriately, down to) when they're depressed! Then again, Serpentine Path's music is not targeted at listeners looking for a good time, but rather those seeking good company with which to delve into and expunge the strong negative emotions they share. As with most extreme death/doom albums verging on the funereal, this one requires a little patience, but the payoff is well worth it.

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