Prosper or Perish – Shroud of Serpents Review

It’s been a good, long time since I’ve reviewed a melodic death metal album. Once upon a time, it was the only genre of music I would listen to, as it acted as a gateway portal between the classic style of heavy metal we all know and love, and the heavier, more extreme sounds that most of us flock to in droves after a while. Just like both extremes of the spectrum, the genre I’m focusing on definitely has its place, but unlike those extremes, it paints itself into a corner after a while, not looking to branch out or adapt without catastrophic results. Philadelphia’s Prosper or Perish hope to break out of that comfort zone with their third album, Shroud of Serpents.

If opener “Ironborn” is anything to go by, they’re aiming to succeed. Keeping to a solid mid-tempo throughout, “Ironborn” is what The Black Dahlia Murder would sound like if they worshipped at the altar of Testament in their formative years, with Steve Stanley doing his best Trevor Strnad1 impersonation, with throat-tearing screeches and phlegmy-yet-discernable lows. The guitars, bass, and drums pull just as much from The Gathering as they do Miasma, though, with catchy riffs, soaring leads, and drum fills a-plenty. It’s all carried with a palpable, tangible energy that seeps throughout the song, which bleeds throughout the majority of the tracks on Shroud of Serpents.

Immediate follow-up “Wolves and Snakes,” the shortest non-instrumental track on here, goes in, kills efficiently, and leaves without hanging around an extra unnecessary second. Later, “Fit for Vultures” rips and tears with a catchy melodic riff attack, phenomenal drum work, and a catchy-as-fuck chorus. Even the two acoustic instrumentals, “Parallel Reveries” and “Solace and Surrender,” act as a nice palate cleanser for all the melodic, thrashy death worship hurled your way.

And thank goodness for those palate cleansers, because Shroud of Serpents is a little bit too on-the-nose with their idol worship. Stanley’s vocals are commendable, but like the late, great TBDM frontman’s earlier recorded performances, he takes up roughly 80-90% of each non-instrumental track, not allowing the songs to breathe. Also, with the exception of the instrumental tracks and closer “Gone to Waste,” each of the songs on here keep to almost the same tempo and rhythms throughout, with precious little variance between sections. While none of the songs are stinkers whatsoever, it’s hard to pick out individual moments when it all blends together almost seemlessly to the point of almost being uniform with each other.

This isn’t to say that Shroud of Serpents isn’t enjoyable, as I had fun throughout the album’s brisk run time. There’s no denying the five members of Prosper or Perish are talented as all get-out, and I could see them absolutely bringing it in an album or two, once they eschew the fat, tighten up the songwriting a bit, and provide some much-needed variance and identity to their delivery. As it stands now, there are far worse ways to spend about a half-hour, and Shroud of Serpents just might be your cup o’ tea.

Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Jobson Productions
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: July 29th, 2022

Show 1 footnote

  1. RIP, Trevor.
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