Agathodaimon - _Serpent's Embrace_
(Nuclear Blast, 2004)
by: Jackie Smit (
It would probably have been handy to have had Agathodaimon's previous records handy to act as a reference for _Serpent's Embrace_, seeing as how the last time I stumbled across the band was around the release of their debut in 1998. Some may recall that during that period nary an item of Nuclear Blast literature could be found that was not buckling beneath the excessive touting of the band as "the next big thing". Of course, shortly thereafter Dimmu Borgir made their indelible mark on the symphonic black metal scene, leaving lesser acts like Agathodaimon to become just another indistinct blip on the extreme music radar. What I find most interesting about _Serpent's Embrace_ from a critical point of view, is that the band still appear to be suffering from the same musical Achilles heel that they did four albums ago. You see, for however many times they manage to blow your hair back with songs like "Cellos for the Insatiable" or "Light Reborn", they seem intent to persistently counter these momentary strokes of genius with the sort of Cradle of Filth-lite drivel that in my humble opinion barely qualifies as metal -- let alone -black- metal. And so, while _Serpent's Embrace_ is well produced and flawlessly performed, it is often a decidedly hit or miss affair and chances are that in order to truly enjoy it, you might need to rely on your CD player's "skip" button on a few occasions.
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