Serpent Lord classify themselves as occult heavy metal and are adorned with the typical attire and related videos of the same rehashed cliches that Mercyful Fate popularized. The music takes mainly from Iced Earth,Black Sabbath,Death and Mercyful Fate and fails to invoke the greater aspects of those bands while invoking the worst from Death. This is a very young that have rushed their development fairly quickly and the lack of consistency in the quality of the compositions hurts a very promising band that is often confused with what they are trying to achieve.
Most songs exist either in the extended pop format popularized by the Speed and Power metal movements or the Chuck Schuldiner build to chorus and repeat the same thing again format. The limitations of these arrangements completely contradict the ritualistic overtones of the lyrics that are for the most part bland and without character except for the final track. There is far too much rhythmic chugging that blocks the melodies from progressing and a reliance on the European Power metal trope which makes the whole occult gimmick even more difficult to chew. Coupled with the modern sterile production and the unnatural yet proficient performances of each of the musicians, this becomes to take seriously. Half of the choruses here belong on a rock album and just use the same progressions again and again.
The most insufferable aspect of this record is the incapability this band has of chaining ideas together coherently when the more extreme influences come into play. Though the ideas are creative and can be interested and can work in conjunction with each other, all the transitions just seem to be long chugs are forcefully glued together which makes it sound as if you were switching radio channels.
Once the track “Serpent Lord” comes on, the album seems to find a sense of purpose with the lyrics and the gimmick finally make sense while the music improves exponentially. “Serpent Lord” is a well executed NWOBHM-esque song working around a motif that uses well some dissonance to achieve the desired effect while cutting out any extra fluff for a simple catchy Heavy metal song that is far from original but is enjoyable for what it is and a final chorus that leads to a sort of mini climax, hinting at the greater potential held within this band.
“God of Shadows” is a song without any distortion in the guitars and just actually works perfectly as the band can really explore a few dark motifs without being held down by the weight of the standard arrangements. Each idea progresses fantastically to the next one before finding balance and a conclusion in the main motif. The lack of vocal gymnastics as the vocalist obeys the music and opts for a more suited timbre in regards to the acoustic guitars. A short but brilliant piece that should be expanded on for following works.
The final composition and the masterpiece of this album “Seed of Divine” is the answer to all of Serpent Lord’s problems as each previous error becomes a non factor. The chugging is gone and so is the haphazard riff juxtaposition in favor of a pro-Death metal structure that brings in the chorus in lieu of a grand climax. There are so many well implemented ideas that could have been explored even further while the band perfectly evoke their influences and progress slightly into Death metal riff territory at some stages. The virtuoso guitar parts help glue certain less fluid transitions and lead to the final chorus well and do not overstay their welcome. The vocal melody is simple but conveys the grandeur of the torturous rituals the band welcomes the listener into. Also of note is the way the guitarists move through the chorus in a staccato rhythm that adds to the memorability of the composition without obscuring the melody itself.
Most of this album is a complete and absolute mess of Modern metal ideas applied to Heavy metal while the last three songs show a band that could possibly release a latter day classic. Considering that they chose “Seed of Divine” for the music maybe Serpent Lord does realize that this is what they should be aiming for. The album has yet to generate any hype and though they are signed to a label, there is no reason for Serpent Lord to not take an extended break to write better music while delving further and understanding occultism. Either way avoid this all except for the last three tracks and let us see if Serpent Lord have what it takes to make something of value.