Serpent Noir – Death Clan OD Review

I’m gonna level with you: it’s good to be past the new Lordi release and the million spins that it took me to write about St. Anger. All I want now is some bare-bones black metal. Something that won’t impress, but won’t disappoint. Hmmm… a Greek black metal band that sounds like Marduk, Gorgoroth, and Ofermod? Yeah, that oughta work. And this year’s Death Clan OD is only their third release. Well, this should be easy enough. *Five minutes into 2012’s Seeing Through the Shadow Consciousness (Open Up the Shells)* What in the hell was that?! *Five seconds into the 2015 follow-up, Erotomysticism* What in the fucking fuck?! So much for an easy, middle-of-the-road black metal release.

As I was telling Madam X, this little band, that seemed to come out of nowhere, blew my socks off. On its surface, the debut full-length is an aggressive and violent collection of tracks that borrow from the Scandinavian second-wave of black metal. Yet, deep in its dark occultism lies everything from black ‘n’ roll to soothing melody. But the band’s sophomore release is a different beast altogether. Every slower-paced chug, key-driven atmosphere, and prayer-like chant that showed its ugly face on Seeing Through the Shadow Consciousness is bigger and better on Erotomysticism. As a bonus, Therion lyricist and the Dragon Rouge himself, Thomas Karlsson, wrote the lyrics for this release. It’s safe to say Erotomysticism is Serpent Noir’s masterpiece. That said, there’s no doubt Death Clan OD will give it a run for its money. But who will take home the prize?

That all depends on the listener’s taste. A big, full, atmospheric piece like Erotomysticism or the 180-degree spin on it? Death Clan OD is not only several minutes shorter than its predecessor, but the key/organ work of Erotomysticism is damn-near nonexistent. Though there’re plenty of melodic moments on this new release, it’s a faster-paced outing with straight-forward cuts. “Hexcraft,” for example, is one of the slower pieces on the album. It has hella lots of melodics in its five-and-a-half-minute runtime but they get trampled by the hoof-to-concrete gallops that fortified the band’s full-length debut.

Songs like “Cutting the Umbilical Cord of Hel” and “Necrobiological Chant of Talas” are the densest tracks on the disc. Full of alternating violence and soothing melodies, these two songs stack on the Gorgorothian riffs as a counterbalance to the iciness that cloaks the songs in frost. The former, in particular, is a beast of a track. It delivers one unstoppable riff after another for seven, solid minutes. Yet, the latter number lets the guitar leads fly—Amon Amarth being something that comes to mind. But it’s “Goeh Ra Reah: Garm Unchained” that has the best riffs on the record. Acting like an instrumental to Thomas Karlsson’s creepy, chanting voice, the closer is home to some killer Dissection-esque black/death licks and more of those Amon Amarth-ish leads.

In case you were, somehow, looking for more roundedness on Death Clan OD, the back-to-back demon pieces, “Asmodeus: The Sword of Golachab” and “Astaroth: The Jaws of Gha’Agsheblah,” oughta get your heart racing. “Asmodeus” is a by-the-numbers black metal piece with a crashing, gnashing, dissonant nature. “Astaroth” carries the same torch but it is relentless. It’s a brutal attack on your earholes that combines rasps and growls with the deep, spoken voice that’s a trademark of the band.

In the end, this is another fantastic release from Serpent Noir. Stripping down the elements they’ve been building on since Day One, Death Clan OD is their shortest and most straightforward release to date. Marrying subtlety to what they’ve done with the two previous releases, Death Clan OD comes and goes before you know it—sitting at a comfortable thirty-eight minutes in length. The riffs are killer and the guitar leads/harmonizations give the album a pleasing air and a sinister character. Erotomysticism is a half point above this new release but that doesn’t mean Death Clan OD isn’t still great.

Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 192 kbps mp3
Label: World Terror Committee
Releases Worldwide: February 7th, 2020

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