Serpent Omega’s self-titled moves forward whilst thinking back to some very strong and influential pioneers.
The sludge metal genre is often a hell of a lot more complicated than people think. Most people assume the stereotypes of the genre center around a couple of key features without taking into consideration just how those influences got there. Sludge takes from a lot of facets of metal; from stoner, doom, black, and even traditional metal, it takes a certain talent to be able to meld these things together in order to make a successful record. At its core, Serpent Omega’s self-titled debut is a hard-hitting display of conventional Sabbath worship sludge with more than a couple of modern twists to keep things interesting. Now I know exactly what you’re thinking. “We’ve heard this recipe a thousand times over.” Well, you might want to re-think that statement, led by by the fierce vocals of one Pia, whose female yells and screams portray a solid wall of aggression, matching completely with the instrumental aspect of the music. Most of the time a female vocalist will take the ‘crooners’ route, and while that might be stereotyping a little, Serpent Omega do well in proving me wrong. First impressions tell a tale of Black Sabbath riffage combined with a Mastodon ingenuity, led by a dominant display behind a microphone, but that’s just the short of it. Serpent Omega have crafted something of their own making, with their own distinct flair without forgetting that sometimes, simple is best. As a whole, the band really succeeds in building off simplistic ideas to get the most out of this sound.
For the most part, Serpent Omega is an easy listening, head-banging affair. There’s an undeniable groove line that sets in and the effect is simply infectious, the good thing is a head-banging groove is something you want to catch. With its seven tracks, the self-titled is a rather short affair. It doesn’t outstay its welcome or have the chance to become one of those tedious and overbearing listens. With a run time of thirty-six minutes, ‘Serpent Omega’ triumphs with a short and sweet message of Swedish bred sludge. Pia’s vocals are the center-point of the record, they take their time to meld into the listeners’ sub-conscious but Pia’s harsh yells are immediate within the music, subduing, swelling and latching on to the listener like an oyster on the side of a rock. Simply, this is a band that’s not going to be forgotten anytime soon. What’s surprising, is the albums variance. Tracks float around the five(plus) minute mark but are also broken by some shorter tracks allowing the listener some reprieve before being tossed into this well-executed sludge machine. Serpent Omega’s debut exceeds the expectations of a genre, while making their own name on a steadily over-populating scene.
The album is full of highlights, right from the initial ‘Skullwand’ which clearly defines the band’s intentions, to the hard-hitting ‘Hammer’, which reinforces the days of old coming to play in a modern setting. The music’s not hard to get into, each track invites your body to move and your thoughts to wander. ‘Hammer’ especially highlights the album and showcases some immense instrumental talent while being tied into rhythmic vocal lines and a hauntingly present atmosphere. If there was a track to define just what ‘Serpent Omega’ is meant to achieve, ‘Hammer’ is a good place to start. Take seven minutes to explore the closer, ‘Konflux’. The track is an opus built with precision to cover each component of the group. The introduction is an atmosphere build up, slowing shifting in dynamics, adding layer on layer on layer. Each member of the band shines through the murkiness of the genre, highlighting the potential these guys are yet to achieve. It just goes to show that the music is not as simple as first meets the ears. The band even incorporates cleans and a minimalist instrumental aspect to the music, if there was ever a need to argue variance on the band’s release, this is it.
Overall, Serpent Omega’s debut is a polarizing release, straight-forward but with enough of a modern edge to allow these guys a level of individuality. It’s not exactly reinventing the proverbial wheel, it doesn’t need to, everything the band needs is both behind and in front of them. It’s what makes Serpent Omega’s self-titled such a relevant release in today’s modern age of music.
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