Serpentine Path Emanations
Published May 23, 2014The addition of guitarist Stephen Flam of kvlt death/doom legends Winter to Serpentine Path has done little to change the band; indeed, it was a natural fit. On their first trip 'round the sun(nn O))) back in 2012, the band evoked the New York act. Add a dash of Dutch legends Asphyx, and you've got the "recommended for people who like" list. This means oozing, slow-as-molasses music with infrequent variations in tempo, massive cymbal-syncopated percussion, howling, shaggy vocals and suffocating atmosphere.
At the time, a lack of in-depth knowledge about their forbears resulted in an inflated opinion of debut Serpentine Path. Two years later, after seeing and obsessing over Winter and Asphyx, as well as revisiting the debut, the glow has faded somewhat. That's not to say that Emanations is weak; far from it. The collective efforts of the supergroup, which includes current and former members of Electric Wizard, Ramesses, Winter and the entirety of sludge group Unearthly Trance carries on a musical tradition that is justifiably enjoying a popularity boost, while offering little variation from the theme. This is music that revels in singularity.
Unlike its predecessors' usage of a somewhat clichéd sample intro, Emanations opens abruptly with no build up, and throughout its entirety, employs no samples. Like its predecessor, it uses many of the tropes of death/doom, though mercifully excludes the buzzsaw production that affects many of its masterworks. The only discernable difference here is the infrequent solos and accents by Flam piercing through the gloom. Again, the sledgehammer hits of Darren Verni dominate alongside the throaty roars of Ryan Lipynsky, which are expertly mixed and audible above the melee. But in the end, where does that get us?
All told, Emanations fulfills the death/doom checklist while never fully transcending it. (Relapse)