January 2021 Feature Release - The North Edition
So we've now managed to rid ourselves of the pathetic excuse for a year that was 2020 which of course means that we'll be nominating a brand new monthly feature release for each clan. This essentially means that we're asking you to rate, review & discuss our chosen features for no other reason than because we enjoy the process & banter. We're really looking forward to hearing your thoughts on our chosen releases so don't be shy.
This month's feature release for The North is 2020's "Endless Detainment" E.P. from US black metal outfit Serpent Column. The duos first few records had represented a very solid start to their recording career however 2020 saw them finally breaking out of the underground with not one but TWO new releases, "Endless Detainment" being the first & more highly regarded of them. The cross-pollination of black metal with a metalcore-affiliated subgenre has not been a common practice over the years & may sound scary to your average kvlt black metallers so we'll be very interested to hear your thoughts on how successful Serpent Column have been in this undertaking.
This is a relentless dose of blackened metalcore that is ferocious, visceral and punishing as anything I've heard in a metal/mathcore idiom in a very long time. The short runtime works to its benefit as tunes don't overstay their welcome. The production does fall a little flat, especially in the percussion. But as I have said on many occasions, most mathcore focuses on the moshpit and getting the people worked up and ready to form a wall of death or circle pit. As part of an album, you don't have that luxury. This is music for the live venue, and until we can get back there again, this kind of music will not resonate as well as some other reviewers might think. Still, it did have some solid moments and it does resonate better than other albums in this regard in 2020. So...yeah, good stuff, but not really in my jurisdiciton.
I was really looking forward to Serpent Column's 2020 release Kathodos since I was such a big fan of Mirror In Darkness back in 2019. On first listen I thought that Kathodos was an interesting spin on their style and rated it highly, but on subsequent listens it felt like it was missing something that Mirror In Darkness had. Obviously Serpent Column decided to go down a different route with less aggression and more theatric atmosphere, but it didn't have the same chaotic replayability as their previous effort.
So, imagine my surprise when I see a 2020 Serpent Column album that isn't Kathodos pop up on the Academy. I had completely missed this one, since I was so focused on Kathodos. And because of how much I tried to like Kathodos, this album satisfied me immensely with the complete chaos that Serpent Column can bring. Apparently they took all the unmitigated aggression and just threw it onto this short 20 minute EP that never slows down and has some serious energy about it. Even though I don't normally care for this stuff, there's something about the way Serpent Column does it that got me really excited for this one, even for repeat listens. I honestly prefer this over Kathodos, which is kind of crazy to say but that album really fell off for me. This EP has zero fluff and is a prime example of one of the many style Serpent Column can play in. Normally they do a bit more compositionally, but sometimes it's a nice change of pace for a band to just put all their effort into one thing and just run with it. So, surprisingly, I really enjoyed Endless Detainment and it'll probably be making its way onto my 2020 list as something I missed.
Serpent Column's "Endless Detainment" is a really chaotic little E.P. full of short stop/start style blast-fests with shrieking, unintelligible vocals & a dense & inaccessible production. It's almost unimaginable to think that it might have been produced by just the two musicians to be perfectly honest. I don't think anyone will be too surprised that this release was right up my alley though given my love of both black metal & mathcore & to their credit Serpent Column have done a splendid job at combining the two genres in a fluent & exciting way with neither style taking the ascendancy. If pushed I'd suggest that the mathcore component might slightly outweigh the black metal one as I think you'll struggle if you don't enjoy mathcore but could probably still get by if you're not into black metal. There's a considerable amount of complexity to a lot of this material & the duo deserve full credit for managing to keep it all together. It's interesting that I've seen little mention of the significant grindcore component too as it's pretty obvious across a number of the nine tracks. The short run time certainly helps to make this a more palatable experience & I ended up playing it three times in a row without feeling like I needed a break to recover this morning. Perhaps "Endless Detainment" might have been better served as a The Revolution feature but I got a lot of enjoyment out of it & think it was a worthy inclusion.
For fans of Deathspell Omega, Plebeian Grandstand & Krallice.