Serdce - Timelessness 01Never heard of Serdce? I can’t blame you. The Belarussian prog-death group has been tramping around the metalsphere in undeserved obscurity since 1997 and Timelessness is the fourth(!) LP to spill from their obscenely talented hands and the first to be released by the metal messiahs at Blood Music. It’s my introduction to the group as well, and if first impressions are to be trusted, Serdce and I have a long future ahead of us.

So why is Timelessness so good? Everything.

Immediately obvious is Serdce‘s willingness to experiment and unabashed progginess – “Into Shambhala” is an entirely non-brutal, amorphous and beautiful saxophone-lead introduction to a subsequent hour of alternatingly breathtaking and neckbreaking forays into prog-death drawing from Cynic, Dream Theater, and even The Mars Volta. August company indeed, and Serdce makes elbow contact with them proudly. Timelessness is not the kind of casual, listenable “prog” album with manageable songs and reigned-in solos that I tend to like. Almost every song runs over six minutes and sports more noodling than a plate of Pad Thai; it’s involved, bombastic, dramatic and clearly an album rather than a collection of songs. Yet every song still makes its impact and rarely succumbs to the overindulgence of Serdce‘s influences.

Take, for instance “Last Faith,” which opens with melancholic piano and strings under Nik Goroshko’s beautiful crooning and then swings into full-scale Cynic death riffs and swaggering Dream Theater style fretboard grooming. Before the song’s halfway mark, Serdce has already spit out enough material for three different songs and show no signs of stopping. Why praise this? Well, because it’s good. Serdce may be committing the sin of self-indulgence, but it’s a victimless crime because every idea is effective enough to carry the song for as long as it needs to. Melodies are beautiful, especially those in “Loss of Feelings or Feelings of Loss” (when they’re not playing “Chocolate Rain”) and the music-box intro of “Omens.” And when the songs get heavy, Timelessness offers up some of the best ’90s prog-death riffs since, well, the ’90s. “Quasar” sports incredible riffs and groovy basslines reminiscent of Focus without ever feeling too derivative, and “The Sixth Sense” pairs some of the album’s heaviest and darkest riffing with characteristically strange melodies and a very memorable solo.

Serdce - Timelessness 02For all of its excellence, Timelessness still can’t shake some of the deficiencies of its prog roots. The songs flow together very well, but at the cost of sounding a bit abrupt when considered alone, and at over an hour long and full of emotional peaks and valleys, it’s an album you have to set aside time and suspension of disbelief to listen to. The songs do occasionally wander, but for the most part always end well and follow a logical progression across the span of the album, and even when Serdce stray into dramatics or questionable prog, they always perform well enough to back it up.

Timelessness is an easy release to overlook and takes a while to fully appreciate, but it’s well worth the time for metalheads, even the ones that aren’t prog-nerds. It can’t escape itself, but then again, it has no pressing need to do so. The fact that Serdce have made a 90’s prog metal album that’s uniformly enjoyable almost fifteen years after the fact is impressive enough, but even more laudable is that Timelessness succeeds without relying on throwbacks, technicality, or self-indulgence as a crutch. In a year where all three of those have been lurking around every corner, Timelessness is a a breath of fresh air.

Tracks to check: “Omens,” “Last Faith,” “Sixth Sense”

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  • El_Cuervo

    This was my favourite discovery out of last year’s year-end lists. Amazing stuff, and would have easily made my top 5 for last year if I’d heard it then. “Omens” is outstanding. I can’t say enough nice things about this album.

    I am indebted Kronos!

    • Monsterth Goatom

      I was just going to mention “Omens”, as I’m streaming the album now. I like how some of the songs slow down and enter a kind of reflective mode, such an the interlude in “Omens” with what sounds like a Glockenspiel.

      Awesome production, as well. The bass is well pronounced. Great drumming, too.

  • I was impressed enough when this came out to order the vinyl edition, the cover art is beautiful and requires a larger format than CD to appreciate.

    (Edit: oh yeah, and it sounds really good too.)

    • tomasjacobi

      Nothing beats vinyl from Blood Music!

  • Awesome musicianship, but I think they need to go more with the flow in the songs rather than incorporing abrupt changes than seems more like stitched pieces than a natural course of the piece. I don’t know if it’s the style they want to make, but, for me, I want my prog to be song oriented more than jam-oriented. Despite than that… THAT BASS IS GREAT!

  • brutal_sushi

    Another title I’m glad to see more recognition here.

  • The Lascivious Snape

    Definitely a favorite of mine from last year. For me it’s nearly impossible to discuss Serdce without namedropping Cynic. In fact, I think Serdce are what I’ve always wanted Cynic to sound like. All of the jazzy instrumentation and progressive wanderlust, but with a heaping helping of death metal heft that the more famous band sorely lacks.

    I like Timelessness and their prior album, The Alchemy of Harmony, better than anything Cynic has ever put out.

    (Not that it’s a contest. My point being only that I think Serdce scratches an itch that you expect Cynic to scratch but don’t, based on descriptions of their music only.)

  • André Snyde Lopes

    This is a very good album. Some bits were all over the place and that’s probably why it ended up being too long but the variety was enough to keep it interesting. Some scissors in the studio and this one could’ve been a classic.

    Side note: I wonder if Druhm is going to make one of these for Vyrion’s Geo. I just listened to it and wow, it is awesome.

    • Monsterth Goatom

      I second a review of Geo. It’d also be nice to see Madame X do one for Young and in the Way’s When Life Comes to Death.

      • BaboonKing

        Oh! Is this the line to ask the AMG staff for Things They Have Certainly Missed? ;)

        If so, I would love it if someone were to review Esoteric Symbolism by Teramaze, which no one seems to know about and (in my humble opinion) is an absolute must for fans of Anubis Gate…

        • Carlos Marrickvillian

          Black Crown Initiate….
          Just kidding

          • The Lascivious Snape

            Why just kidding? That album is amazing. Has someone on AMG come out again the band, or was there a squabble over promo discs or something?

          • Carlos Marrickvillian

            It’s been requested about a dozen times already

  • Luke_22

    Yeah they were one of my favorite discoveries from last year. Some amazing stuff on the album, although it does suffer from bloating in parts. The Alchemy of Harmony is also very good.

  • robpal

    Great album, luckily have heard it in 2014 and made it into my year-ending Top 10.

  • basenjibrian

    excellent album and a great discovery.

  • Carlos Marrickvillian

    Thanks for the tip Kronos, “more noodling than a plate of Pad Thai” that sir is gold! Timelessness Its pretty much been on my playlist constantly since I picked it up.
    There’s a couple of jarring jumps between songs but overall the songs are great, fantastic performances and production. The bass and drums are awesome. It along with Dead Congregation have been my favourite TYMHM from last year.
    Worth noting that it’s (or at least was) a name your price purchase on Bandcamp.

  • Kryopsis

    Chocolate Rain. Some stay dry and others feel the pain…

    But seriously, this is a rather good album. There are some album passages I do not entirely agree with but overall it’s definitely creative and talented band. Also it’s worth mentioning that they’re on Blood Music, which means ‘pay-what-you-want’ on Bandcamp!

  • dog_950

    musically i thought this album was great for the most part. great riffs, incredible soloing and i really like the more ethereal moments in into shambala and the lounge section in omens. there are some moments of self indulgence, the middle of samadhi particularly makes no sense and the solo in loss of feeling or feelings of loss is about a minute too long but other than that the instrumentation is superb, it also helps that the production is great too. where i have a problem with this album is the vocals, the growls are ok, nothing spectacular but the clean vocals which occur a lot more than the harsh vocals are dreadfully boring in my opinion and they bring down the music a fair bit. i don’t really feel anything when i listen to them, they don’t move me whatsoever, they aren’t technically bad but they evoke nothing to me unfortunately. i know this is late but just thought i would add my two cents