31 Jul 2013

Serpenthia - Beyond [EP] (2012, Self-released)

Scandinavia is rich with black metal history. A country that has always been a bit overlooked when talking about the history of the black metal genre is Finland. A lot of good bands like Satanic Warmaster and Horna originate from this country, but they have always been overshadowed by their Swedish and Norwegian counterparts aswel as Finland's tremendous export of folk and power metal bands.
The Finnish style of black metal is often associated with a very tinny and raw sound, but Serpenthia from Joensuu are pretty far removed from this tendency. Since they formed in 2002 they have had somewhat of a revolving door lineup but have in spite of this released a steady flow of demos, ultimately culminating in the release of their 2012 EP "Beyond".

With a name like Serpenthia and a genre description going something along the lines of "melodic dark metal" I was half expecting some female-fronted symphonic metal atrocity, but what Serpenthia actually present on Beyond is a fairly diverse take on melodic black metal. While the majority of the material can be described as black metal with various melodic and symphonic inputs there are places where the riffs and vocals in particular border more on death metal while at the same time keeping the same feeling as the rest of the EP.

The guitar sound has a thick tone to it which is pretty unusual for most black metal. It goes great with the swarming riffs and further accentuates the tenebrous death metal feeling that some of the parts have, and the riffs in particular are what makes the Finnish band noticeable. Serpenthia have a tendency of taking a riff or melody that sounds mostly simple and then turning it inside out which makes for some really interesting songs.

Beyond is actually really long for an EP being almost 40 minutes long. If I recall correctly Slayer's magnum opus Reign in Blood is only about 28 minutes, and this is considered a full length album. It's by no means a bad thing that Beyond is a lengthy release, because the band manages to keep renewing their black metal efforts throughtout the EP (or album if you will). Beyond sometimes misses a bit of consistency, but the divergent flow of their songs are at the same time one of the strongest points of Serpenthia. 7/10 guitars.

1. Them
2. The Spectre
3. Nightbringer
4. Beyond the Veil
5. Tragedy
6. The Fall (Deception pt. 2)

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