Blood Of Serpents – Sulphur Sovereign

Rating: 2.5/5
Distributor/label: Non Serviam Records
Released: 2018
Buy Album: http://www.non-serviam-records.com/shop.php#!/Blood-Of-Serpents-Sulphur-Sovereign-digipak-PRE-ORDER/p/110231984/category=5291899
Band Website: https://www.facebook.com/bloodofserpents

BAND LINE-UP:

Thomas Clifford – Vocals,
Fredrik Nilsson – Guitar,
Kristian Roupe – Guitar,
Benny Åkeson – Bass,
Christoffer Andersson – Drums.

TRACKLISTING:

1. Mater Tenebris
2. In Darkness, Brotherhood
3. Devil’s Tongue
4. Evictor Of Christ
5. As The Temple Burns
6. Canticle
7. As Nocturnal Dimensions Beckon
8. Upon Waters Dark
9. Prophet Of A False Faith
10. A Void Between Worlds

REVIEW

We all know the black metal tropes from down the years, don’t we? If not, go away and come back once you’ve given the Wiki page a skim. Got it? Great. So the usual fare is to skin people alive with grating tremolo riffs, or to blast them away with the Arctic winds of atmosphere. Which trope will you choose? More importantly, since it’s not you’re album under the microscope here, what do BLOOD OF SERPENTS choose?

It’s the former, as “Sulphur Sovereign” opens loud and proud with the hellish “Mater Tenebris”. A whirlwind of tremolo riffs, blast beats and Arctic shrieks; after the stomping intro, it breathes into life in trve black metal fashion by taking absolutely no prisoners. With all the melody of industrial machinery attempting to sing, it’s a harsh sonic assault that will leave all those who cross its path bewildered in its wake. Largely because that’s the record right there. Thanks for reading; until next time…

Regrettably, BLOOD OF SERPENTS have fallen into the typical trap within black metal of seeing the blood-and-thunder approach as the only path. Subsequent tracks like “Devil’s Tongue” and “Evictor Of Christ” are cut from the same cloth and offer nothing new – hell, they’re even at similar tempos. It’s shameful to admit, but it’s entirely possible to lose track of the album and wonder whether the same song is playing. There’s little difference that separates our fiery aural lashings from one another, and that’s a disappointment.

At the end of the day, the mark of a good album is one that leaves an impression, and “Sulphur Sovereign” doesn’t offer much, save for “another black metal album”. In isolation, the songs are enjoyable romps through the woods with claw hands and make-up, but collectively they become wearisome. Maybe not wearisome, as that would imply a desire for it to stop, but rather resignation of more of the same.

With all that being said, where BLOOD OF SERPENTS start to realise their potential is towards the centre of “Sulphur Sovereign”. The one-two of “As The Temple Burns” and “Canticle” are a joyful treat. Speed is dialed down and melody is up on the former, with an almost euphoric choral finale that sees the band give a nod towards the symphonic masters in EMPEROR. There’s still tremolo blasts, but it’s given relief by the slower passages – more of this, and the album would work far better. As for the latter, “Canticle” is the interlude from hell – literally. Wonky piano chimes away as a solitary beat hammers out beneath pained wails and screams – don’t know about you, but it’s about time we all had a new bedtime song to lull us into slumber!

Casting a critical eye over “Sulphur Sovereign” is about as familiar as around three-quarters of the music on offer. It’s writing the same things time and again about the staid nature and lack of innovation, with little to offer consumers to come back for more (unless they’re already a fan). It’s dependable if nothing else. Certainly serviceable, and gets the job done, but enough about writing these reviews. BLOOD OF SERPENTS’ sophomore is an amped-up offering to the black metal gods that will absolutely please the kvltists out there, even if it’s simply more of the same within the genre. Maybe that’s just it. Maybe that’s the true sovereignty…

REVIEW BY LEE CARTER
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