For a band such as Serpentine Path it seems nigh impossible to seperate the members past from their current works. Being that the band is comprosed of the whole of Unearthly Trance coupled with members whose former bands include Electric Wizard and Winter. If that doesn't read like doom metal supergroup I have no idea how you would quantify such a notion otherwise. So here we are presented with their second full length record.
With a more defined sound and direction for the group they have managed a more forceful and dense record overall. Allowing the guitars to drone when needed and with Bagshaw and Flam leading the charge we get graced with intelligent riffs and overwhelming solos. This gives the songs a more defined reason to spread over the course of their lengthy structures. Lipinsky's vocals generally take center stage giving an evil growl to match the weighty rhythm section. All of this comes together to form an entirely dense doom record that makes most others sound amatuerish in comparisson.
Songs like "Treacherous Waters" give you a nice mix of both catchy guitars and utter mind bending heaviness. The lead cuts through and gives something extra for the listener to sink their teeth into. The guitarists pedigree routinely shines through with their past experience giving way to even smarter songwriting than their first record and certainly more so than most of their peers. When things slow down even further in songs such as "Claws" the rhythm section gets to shine moving things forward in a constant rumble. While the guitars move above and create sweeping dual riffs that rise above the murk the rhythm section never allows the listener free from said murk everything dark and completely earth shaking.
The grit of the production as a whole gives further depth to the record making everything sound that much darker. This is a fantasic doom record given to the listener. This is what mroe doom should sound like just heavy beyond words, dark but without negating the need for hooks and true talent. This is something special in a genre that looks for heaviness above all things. Proving one cannot forget the importance of something as simple as a good hook.
When you have members of Unearthly Trance, actually the whole last known line-up of Unearthly Trance, alongside Tim Bagshaw, previously of Ramesses and Electric Wizard, and to top it all off Stephen Flam of fucking Winter participating in the same band, then you find yourself sailing in the seas of nirvana if you are a doom/death fan. This is the unholy line-up of Serpentine Path and how it remains today, and that alone can make heads roll.
Emanations is the second release from the band after their self-titled album, which was released a couple of years earlier. And even though their debut album was in a really good overall level, it is their sophomore release where the band really meets expectations. It feels like the patterns of the songs are better laid out, the inclusion of Flam in the lineup and his contribution on the guitar work have been instrumental in order to reach another level.
In Emanations, Serpentine Path focuses on a few different things. The most important aspect of their music is to create an overwhelming sonic dissonance coming from the two guitars, where Bagshaw and Flam operate perfectly, making this album having an unpredictable nature when it comes to their guitar leads and solos. In “House of Worship” for instance the main guitar lead brings in a wave of discord, with the frantic solo parts spreading mayhem. It just feels like, when compared to the songs of the title album, Emanations is much richer in elements of sound and its guitar parts are much more creative. There are moments where the hellish leads of the opening track “Essence of Heresy” feeling like they are going to drag you to the underworld, while the spiraling guitar leads of “Claws” are producing a very real never ending torment.
On the other hand, a really cool addition in Emanations is the more diverse rhythm patterns that Serpentine Path is incorporating. There are moments in “Treacherous Waters” where Serpentine Path leave behind their really slow tempo, add in double bass and giving more movement to their track. Those short bursts of anger and defiance are working perfectly within their music and really give more impact to their tracks. On a similar fashion “Disfigured Colossus” is brought forth, with a much more straightforward groove to it, which will not let you stop banging your head.
And finally there are these moments when Serpentine Path start to turn all vindictive towards us and twist the knife. That is what they produce with their two final songs. “Systematic Extinction” contains great lead parts, almost reaching a psychedelic level, and again with the drumming offering intriguing changes of patterns keeping the track moving, twisting and turning. And then there is “Torment” of course with the band really creating its darkest song and serving it to us.
Even though I enjoyed the debut album of Serpentine Path, I think that Emanations is a clearly stronger release. The band has crafted their songs in a more imaginative manner and enriched their music. And even though, this is a great release, I still think that they have it in them to top that one as well. Remember, the stakes are high…