Forces of Satan/Regain (2008) Kevin Fitzpatrick

Ophiolatry – Transmutation cover artwork
Ophiolatry – Transmutation — Forces of Satan/Regain, 2008

Ophiolatry is another band that, like their labelmates Black Flame, is a true force in the black arts to be reckoned with. Ophiolatry (the worship of serpents) has more of a grind aspect to their sound than their respected brethren. Relentless blastbeats and truly brutal guitar work that have the ability to pummel the listener into a fine powder. The band hails from Brazil, a country known to take its metal seriously and believe me when I say that these guys aren't fucking around. With Transmutation, they've taken their fellow countrymen Sarcofago's mantra of "Fuck Off Melodic Black Metal" to a whole other level. The vocals are more of a death-rattle than can usually be found in black metal, but Ophiolatry challenges the notion that black metal has to have a uniform sound. What they, along with label Forces of Satan, prove is that the sound is secondary to the attitude when it comes to classifying your sound as "black." This is a pretty fast listen, sixteen tracks in thirty-two minutes. But it's quality, not quantity that counts. There's also a welcome element of experimentation with the inclusion of instrumentals like "Urutu" and "Variacoes 1" that balance the brutality with beauty which gives the album as a whole an even more unnerving feel.

So many black metal bands get stuck in the rut of conforming to the genre and there's not necessarily anything wrong with that if it isn't broke don't fix it. But you can push the envelope of expectations without sacrificing the original vision. Ophiolatry can potentially kick that door of possibilities wide open, but as with anything, this can also lead to less-than-sincere intent on future artists' part. This stands as yet another reason it's good to have labels like Forces of Satan around with a clear and concise purpose - to weed out the weak and dishonest and to embrace the real.

Ophiolatry – Transmutation cover artwork
Ophiolatry – Transmutation — Forces of Satan/Regain, 2008

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