On the surface, “The Divine Harm” is a solid Blackened Death Metal album, with all of the genre trademarks clearly in place. Tremolo picking, blast beats, dark lyrical imagery, death growl vocals, a menacing album cover, and things of that nature. To be honest with you, that’s what I took away from it upon first listen. It did not immediately remind me of anything specific that I had heard before, which prompted another listen. That is when I started to pick stuff out, like “Holy shit, that sounds like Melechesh!” or “I hear a bit of Darkthrone in there” or “What the fuck is he doing with his vocals? That’s terrifying!”. I kept coming back to it because I kept hearing new things, and that, my friends, is how you know you’re listening to something special.
Serpentian is a band that knows exactly what it wants to be, which is whatever the hell it wants! Along with Darkthrone and Melechesh, think of bands like Rotting Christ, Gorgoroth, Behemoth, and even Enslaved or Carpathian Forest to a degree. When names like that start being tossed around, people take notice. They start digging in and thinking things like “Who’s playing bass? Is that only one vocalist? What other bands have they been in? Do they have any other albums?” Interest like that doesn’t come out of a fucking box, and it can’t be manufactured. A band will possess that kind of pull, or they won’t. It’s as simple as that, and I’m here to tell you, Serpentian is unquestionably magnetic.
A stand-out track like “In Godless Void” devours everything in its path, with gloriously devastating guitar riffs provided by Steven Watkins. The bass playing, done by Sean Hudson (also of Vesperian Sorrow), is superb. Drummer Kevin Elrod dominates the backdrop with dizzying blast beats and frequent tempo changes. Jon Zig doubles the vocal tracks, part guttural-part slithering snake, making him sound like a man possessed.
“Your Daughters of Illness” begins in an almost Doom-like fog. Zig, hissing like a serpent, sings about peeling flesh, the song slowly grinding away at the earth below.
“Draped In Dimensions As Skin” has a vocal cadence that begs to be sung along with, the crowd both in and out of the pit pumping its fist in unison. More incredible guitar work. More crushing bass. More, more, more of everything that makes Metal so fucking magnificent!
“The Divine Harm” doesn’t need a track by track analysis. That’s a spectacular waste of time, because Serpentian is just a great band. They are the kind of band that makes fans of heavy music happy as little demon clams, because they remind us of why we fell in love with Metal in the first place. They smoke what they’re selling, and that will keep us all buying. A genuine heaviness, if there ever was one. I very much look forward to hearing more in the future. Highly recommended listening.
Rating – 4/5
EDIT: I would like to take a minute to point out that vocalist, Jon Zig, is not only the man behind the incredible cover art for “The Divine Harm”, he is also an extremely prolific visual artist for many other bands as well. Aborted Fetus, Angerot, Deadly Remains, Images of Violence (for whom he also provides vocals), Infuriate, Suffocation, Sinister, Vesperian Sorrow, and many many more. Incredible work!