Moanhand – Present Serpent Review

Try as I might, it’s hard to break out of patterns that take months, if not years, to craft and make a template out of. I still put actual milk in my coffee and not that oily Coffeemate bullshit. My breakfast omelets will always have cheddar cheese, bacon, and enough garlic to anger vampires. Above all, I like my doom metal to be… doom metal. Heavy. Oppressive. Mournful. That said, sometimes a little deviation can work wonders, and Roman Filatov, chief songwriter and solo proprietor of Moanhand, is seeking to woo the masses over with his creative take on a classic sound using a wide swath of influences.1 It’s not often that I get one-person doom, especially from Russia, so what can be expected of his debut, Present Serpent?

Honestly, expect a lot… with all the good and bad associated with that. But first, the good. Nothing here is outright terrible. Not by a longshot, in fact. Filatov can riff effectively, and he’s got that Voivod/Bolt Thrower bass tone on lockdown. Also, he sets a hell of a mood during “The Charmthrower” and especially “Nightwings,” the latter of which has a simplistic, yet overly effective guitar solo that does so much with so little, adding to a downtrodden, morose atmosphere. The harmonious blend of Middle-Eastern influences in the midsection of “Endless Embrace” is a nice, subtle transition. This is only his debut, but already we’re seeing what Filatov is capable of, and his future is most certainly bright.

But there are hiccups, and some of those hiccups are costly. Opener “Serpent Soul (A Tale of Angels’ Slaughter)” lays most of them out. Filatov’s got a great vocal range between his growls, shrieks and his clean singing, but the tone of those cleans veers wildly from stellar to nasally and off-putting, like Theory of a Deadman’s Tyler Connolly, only tolerable. Also, “Serpent Soul” suffers from being a decent four-minute song stretched out to over six minutes, an affliction that permeates throughout Present Serpent. The biggest flaw found here resides in the fact that Filatov is trying to shove as many of his influences into Present Serpent, and because of that, you can’t make heads or tails if he’s trying to be an alt-metal band, a doom metal outfit, or straight-up black metal. So when he attempts all three in closer “The Boomerang of Serpents,”2 it comes across as disjointed without much in the terms of flow.

On the production side, it doesn’t sound too bad. The guitars are beefy, and I’m giving the chef’s kiss to that bass tone. The vocals could be moved up in the mix more, as it feels like the guitars and the programmed drums drown it out a bit. Speaking of those drums, they’re too upfront and in-your-face. So much so that, during the ill-planned blastbeat section during “The Boomerang of Serpents,” they literally overpower every other instrument. There’s nothing wrong with using programmed drums, but it wouldn’t hurt to dial them back so they don’t steal the thunder from you. Bigger still, though, the songs need more self-editing. I know it’s not easy when you’re calling all the shots and this is your baby, but it’s better leaving the listener wanting more than it is to have them skipping to the next song with minutes left remaining.

With all that said, Present Serpent managed to showcase Filatov’s sizable talents, and perhaps in a couple years with a few releases under his belt, Moanhand will develop into a stronger, beefier powerhouse. Right now, though, there’s a lot of work to be done to get to that point. It’s not there yet, but it’s also not a bad debut from a promising musician, and I’ve already heard far worse this year alone. Here’s to a brighter future down the road for Moanhand.

Rating: 2.5/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Burning Shine
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: June 18th, 2021

Show 2 footnotes

  1. No lie. From the one-sheet: “FFO: Black Sabbath, Acid King, Satyricon, A Perfect Circle.” That’s… a spread.
  2. Which sounds almost as horrifying as, say, a shuriken of tarantulas. Almost.
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