Serpent Sermon (Century Media Records)
I was never really much of a fan of MARDUK until I heard this black metal masterpiece. Serpent Sermon goes down as one of the greatest black metal albums I’ve ever heard. From the collected chaos of the first track “Serpent Sermon” right down to the downright old school rawness of “World Of Blades,” this album showcases all that is good in the black metal universe.
Amongst the onslaught of blast beats and more down tuned tremolo picking, “Serpent Sermon” certainly owns the right for the album namesake. Mortuus’ vocals are gritty and menacing as always, providing the mood of the album. Blast beats are abound, and when the music slows down it stays heavy and satisfying. Which brings me to another aspect of why this release is superior to most other black metal releases. The clean tone of the guitars really bring out the very best sound throughout the whole band.
In ways I cannot properly explain, the intro for “Souls For Belial” has a retro tone that makes me think of late 80’s metal. But after that, it heads into a blast beat marathon that puts most other drummers to shame. The guitars don’t really do too much here except provide extra background sound for the vocals and drums, which are the centerpiece in this song. But then the thrash kicks in and is turned up to eleven on “Into Second Death” that sounds like old school CELTIC FROST if they took all and any groove out of it (think “Return Of The Eve” twice as fast). But the guitars stay at the backup post in the song, which I think should have been shown off a lot more.
Regardless of my gripes with the guitars, the core of this album is true and well done black metal. The guitars aren’t meant to be flashy or technical in any way, it does the job of providing the brooding atmosphere of which black metal is to be made by blast beats and menacing vocals. This album is a must have in any fan of black metal. It’s time to take down the “false” black metal and replace with this Serpent Sermon majesty.
By: Ridge “Deadite” Briel