In the Company of Serpents – Lux Review

I’ve mentioned before that I quite enjoy the phenomenon of listening to a new album and immediately knowing which of my scribe litter-mates will enjoy said album. Got something heavier than a planet and math’d out to the point of being unlistenable? Give me my Kronos, yo! ‘What’s that cheesy thing making grampa-metal sounds, and why is it wearing jorts?’ Sounds like a job for… Captain 4.0ldeneye! For everything else, there’s TheKenWord. Today’s review, however, is one of doom for of Doom: In the Company of Serpents’ fourth full-length is an unholy concoction of sludge, doom and cowboys, and frankly things don’t get any Cherdier than that. I’m certain that Cherd Fergvson will take to Lux like BP took to the Gulf of Mexico’s seabed,1 which means I’m likewise certain that AMG Himself will care for it about as much as BP cared for the Gulf of Mexico’s seabed—but what does that mean for you?

For starters, it means you’re in for a bit of a weird ride. Things seem straightforward enough for the first few minutes of “The Fool’s Journey,” during which some enjoyable sludge-doom à la Ghost Brigade gets the album off to a grooving, driving start; indeed, the first time I heard the song drop gears into Motherslugging desert rock around the 4:00 mark, it was so unexpected and seemingly out of place that I was subconsciously certain that the next track had started. After a minute or so of ethereal chillaxation, things get thick and sludgy, then suddenly they get thickly Slugdgey with a downright deathy riff—and that’s just the first track. ItCoS own enough sonic property as to enjoy 3 wheelhouses—doom, sludge, and what the promo calls ‘spaghetti Western scores’—and they are apt to saddle up and roll out to the next one at any given time in any given song.

While this array of inspiration may initially sound like an odd combination, the songs on Lux are as strong as they come, finding equal success as a collective as when experienced in stand-alone listens. Much of this can be credited to Greg Netzorg’s vocal performance; just as his guitar frequently changes it’s tonal direction at a moments notice, Netzorg grunts, growls and croons his way through a disparate mix of sounds that somehow suits said shifting instrumental scenery to a T. When “Scales of Maat” morphs from Cult of Luna worship into something almost Ulcerated, it’s the most natural thing in the world, and somehow everyone is able to stay on the same wildly diferent page as the track slithers and writhes through a 6 minute metamorphosis. ItCoS are very much their own entity, and they conquer their unique kingdom by being completely united with themselves, in the heavy times of “The Fool’s Journey” as in the still desert air of “The Chasm at the Mouth of the All.”

Once upon a time, Jean Luc-Ricard lamented two crucial shortcomings on ItCoS’ part: insufficiently engaging songwriting and production woes, the former—and inherently subjective—grievance being cited against the quality of ItCoS’ riffs while the latter largely stemmed from the absence of a bassist at the time. Today, I have news of each variety. The good: ItCoS have greatly improved their abilities to craft memorable riffs and songs in general, to my obviously wildly superior ears anyway; “The Chasm…,” a curious but delightful dance in the desert between Electric Wizard and Ghost Brigade, is among of the more intriguing things I’ve heard all year, and the rest of the album is just as uniquely enjoyable. The bad: while the band now features full-time bassist Ben Pitts, negating that particular gripe, there are still production issues. Namely, volume: anytime the album transitions from clean sounds to electric distortion—which occurs often—the accompanying change in volume is almost always literally painful. A somewhat minor offense considering Lux’s otherwise total success, but an offense all the same—and quite an annoying one, at that.

Lux is a bit difficult to describe, yet pretty easy to recommend. Our other resident Muppet, who is vastly wiser than I and yet was unable to prevent this album from falling into my unqualified claws, describes it as a ‘bit of a mix between Goatsnake and Eagle Twin,’ but I find that description to be entirely too informative. As far as I’m concerned, Lux is the sound of a wild Cherd in it’s natural habitat, at home on the range where the doom and the sludge monsters play. A helpful description? Not even a little, but I’m not the reviewer you creeps need, yo, and I say it’s the assessment that you deserve.

Rating: 3.02/5.0
DR: 8 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Self-Released
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: May 15th, 2020

Show 2 footnotes

  1. He’s gonna dig it, yo.
  2. Obviously that rating is way too high for this album to truly, fully embody absolute Cherddom. Them’s Huck numbers, yo.
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