Doom or Sludge? The band favour Doom where as most reviewers put them under Sludge. Whatever genre you put them in it conjures up recycled Black Sabbath riffs and pale, hairy, shouty blokes. Serpent Cult aim to challenge that preconception and show you something a little different. Despite laying impressive ground work with their 2007 debut ‘Trident Nor Fire’ EP, Belgium’s Serpent Cult are unlikely to be a household name to those who don’t dabble in the Doom/Sludge pool, but ‘Weight Of Light’ should change all that, being released with the Rise Above seal of approval and the band featuring various veterans of their native Doom scene.
‘New World Order’, the album’s opener, rides in on a squeal of feedback before the crushing inevitability of the band’s weighty riffs beat you into submission. When the vocals kick in, singer Michelle may catch you off guard being at odds from the usual affair in a male dominated genre, but fits the music perfectly as she soars over the lumbering fuzz enhanced grooves with urgency and power. Musically the band are taught and muscular, underpinned by Frederik Coseman’s precise and frenetic drumming and the lyrics are thoughtful and carry an urgent despair. The feedback continues joining it almost seamlessly into track two, ‘Screams From The Deep’ a slower and more harmonic tune that loses none of the dense riffing but focuses it into well crafted melody.
The title track and the EP previewed ‘Red Dawn’ are the best songs on the album, both are accessible and almost catchy but contain elements of drone, stoner, psychedelia and straight forward metal. The former is stately and epic, the latter dirty and grinding, highlighting the song writing talents at the bands disposal. Of course words like heavy and crushing are par for the course when reviewing such a genre, but the album manages check all the boxes in terms of what you want from this type of music and yet give a fresh take on it and dare to push the boundaries into accessibility, whilst having moments of sublime instrumental experimentation.
In spite of the obvious musical references there is something distinctly modern and contemporary about SerpentCult that calls to mind the metallic edge of Crowbar, but such comparisons fall short of accurately describing their sound. If you like Doom or Sludge and want something rewarding and different you could do far worse than picking up ‘Weight Of Light’.
Scribed by: Mark Hunt-Bryden