Serocs_AndWhentheSkyWasOpened_01There are times where I suspect that this website exerts some sort of observer effect on the bands we review. AMG writers have had several interactions with musicians that likely influenced their output, and at least one band that seems to have reunited for no reason other than being in a 90’s Metal Weirdness column here. This brings me to international tech-death collective Serocs, whose album The Next was critiqued here a couple years ago. I’d swear that the band used that review as some sort of death metal performance review, because their follow-up And When The Sky Was Opened addresses just about every issue I had with The Next, with extremely positive results.

For starters, the band seems to have focused their sound significantly. The Dying Fetus-esque pit fodder riffs have almost completely disappeared, as the band hones in on the more technical aspects of their sound. Cryptopsy and Gorguts are still valid reference points, as the band parlays those influences into complex, sometimes lengthy compositions (two of the tracks here are in the 8-minute range). Some sections, particularly in closing track “For Nothing,”  could be loosely defined as “progressive,” referencing the aforementioned Gorguts and even Steve DiGiorgio-era Death at times.

This doesn’t mean the band’s sound has become one-dimensional, however. Witness the fluid neoclassical soloing in “Solitude,” courtesy of new lead guitarist Phil Tougas. The dissonant clean guitar that weaves in and out of the 8-minute epic “When the Ground Swallows Us…” is a welcome change of pace, as is bassist Mike Poggione’s effect-laden solo in “Them.” None of these elements are necessarily surprising or even out of place, but they’re an interesting expansion on Serocs‘ sound.

Thankfully, all this artistic growth and progression has not caused the band to lose sight of their greatest strength: giant, disgusting, vomitous riffs. Opener “And So It Begins” crams a seemingly impossible number of them into a 3-minute track, getting faster and more insane as it goes on. There’s a groove riff in “When the Ground Swallows Us…” that is also brilliant, using pick squeals and sour notes to great effect. And the title track contains a brief appearance of a fantastic trem picked section that might be my favorite on the entire record.

Serocs_02

My grievances with The Next‘s weak audio quality have also been handily solved by none other than the legendary Neil Kernon (Nile, Nevermore, Hall & Oates), who handles mixing duties this time around. Kernon wisely places the rhythm guitars as the foundation of the sound, putting those ugly, dissonant riffs up front while creating greater clarity overall. While the snare drum may sound somewhat questionable, the record overall is a surprisingly pleasant listen, and a vast improvement over its predecessor in the audio department. The band keeps the album length at a respectable 35-ish minutes, long enough to get its point across but short enough to avoid wearing out its welcome.

And When The Sky Was Opened is a considerable leap forward, both musically and presentation-wise. The tech-death genre may be somewhat saturated at this point, but Serocs prove that they have something to offer, even in this crowded field. If you’re a fan of any of the bands mentioned above (sans Hall & Oates perhaps), this record may be well worth your time.


Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 192 kbps mp3
Label: Comatose Music
Websites: serocs.bandcamp.com
Releases Worldwide: November 27th, 2015

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  • This doesn’t sound anything like Hall & Oates, dammit!

    • Name’s Dalton

      I love Hall & Oates.

  • Name’s Dalton

    Alright, Serocs. You just made the list.

    (of records to buy)

  • CyberJesus

    I’m liking this embedded track! Also, are you guys gonna review the new Abhorrent record? That’s the band with the drummer from The Faceless and the bassist from Spawn of Possession.

    • Zac Melvin-McNutt

      Intransigence is probably the best tech-death album of the year!

    • Luke_22

      We didn’t get promo unfortunatel , but It will be a Things You Might Have Missed piece.

  • Elton Chagas

    Wow! This is… INTENSE!

    I love riff-oriented death metal! (R.I.P. Vomitory)

  • Thatguy

    Thanks, Doc. Informative review and I like what I hear. Serocs have made my list too.

  • André Snyde Lopes

    Xerox?

    • Guillotine of Papal Crowns

      Crocs: And When The Mall Was Opened

  • Zac Melvin-McNutt

    I’m really really liking this! Now this how tech-death should sound! This along with the new Abhorrent have just made my favourites list!

  • Innit Bartender

    Hall & Oates on AMG! Now if only Alan Parsons Project pops up in some coming review, my life will be complete.

    • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

      If another Megascavenger record pops up in the queue (Rogga’s death metal Alan Parsons Project), you might just get your wish!

      • Innit Bartender

        I don’t know anything about Megascavenger, I’ll check them out!!

  • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

    I agreed with everything you said about The Next, so this shot up the to-hear list. Getting a From Wisdom to Hate vibe in parts of the embedded track, which is good because that’s the best Gorguts record.

    • Kronos

      I was thinking the same, except that’s clearly not the best Gorguts Record.

      • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

        But what is? I honestly can’t think of another candidate. The first two were quite good but not as good as parts of Obscura, but Obscura went on too long for its own good. FWtH mixed the best of those three and tightened Obscura’s screws, and would’ve been a wonderful note to go out on. Instead, they made their worst record in Colored Sands and even though it wasn’t bad it was definitely a step down.

        • Kronos

          I disagree on all points. Obscura is long but considering how ahead of its time it was, I think in this case more material was good. I also really enjoyed Colored Sands. Can’t wait for the new single – song album Luc Lemay has promised for next year.
          Also, every interview I’ve ever seen of that guy is great. He’s just so fucking Canadian, always passionate and good natured.

          • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

            Being the worst Gorguts record isn’t a bad thing, as Colored Sands was pretty good overall, but out of their full-lengths it’s easily the weakest link. Context is important and Obscura still is a hugely important record, but it’s still too long. Influential records can remain important, great, and influential, but within their scope of influence better things can grow. It just so happened that FWtH was that better thing by a little bit, IMO. Also this is coming from a guy who’s spent about $70 on Obscura (CD and LP) because I love the record, even though it has its flaws.

            Regardless of how the new release turns out (I’m cautiously optimistic), I respect Lemay to a ridiculous degree. He’s an incredible musician both live and in studio, seems like an extremely humble and genuinely nice guy, and he changed death metal forever. That’s a damn fine resume to have.

          • Kronos

            If it’s longer than 45 minutes I’m probably going to be peeved.

          • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

            I’m worried about it being “Clouded: Requiem” or something like that. They stretched that idea beyond thin on Obscura.

          • Kronos

            Apparently this was inspired by “I,” which hopefully means Luc isn’t going to do too much repeating himself.

          • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

            Have you read that ridiculous essay on how that song basically broke music as we know it?

          • Kronos

            I’ve read a paper on it, I think. Did a project last year in a class that revolved around Meshuggah and Dillinger’s use of rhythm to create tension and release.

          • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

            Boffin-core!

          • Kronos

            Yeah I found the paper again. One of the main takeaways was that traditional notions of meter are poorly equipped to analyze a large chunk of the song and they had to instead just count beats between accents.

          • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

            IIRC Meshuggah recorded it in short segments too. It is pretty…”academic” sounding music from a technical standpoint.

  • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

    Someone should write a book about how Neil Kernon went from producing Hall & Oates to producing Nile and Cannibal Corpse.

  • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

    Just the fact that Mike Poggione plays here is enough reason for me to check this out, taking into account that he played in Capharnaum’s “Fractured” probably the most underrated album of technical Death Metal ever. It should be hailed as a classic.

    • Luke_22

      It’s a classic in my book but criminally underrated.

      • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

        You have a good book.

        • Luke_22

          Thanks it’s served me well.

  • Luke_22

    Need to check this sucker out further. Embedded track sounds great.