Serpentine Path - _Serpentine Path_
(Relapse Records, 2012)
by: Johnathan A. Carbon (8 out of 10)
I have been trying to envision the concept of a supergroup. More times than not, the idea of multiple established members combining for a project fails to live up to the expectation set forth by the idea. This isn't the Justice League or Justice Society, and metal musicians are not Hourman or the Sentinel. Serpentine Path is different in the fact I never considered them a supergroup, rather the continuation of one band with the addition of veteran talent. Following the dissolution of NYC based doom metal act Unearthly Trance, the three members quickly created Serpentine Path with the addition of ex-Electric Wizard bassist and current Ramesess guitarist Tim Bagshaw. If I were to hazard a guess on how this project would fair, I would be more than trusting of this group's potential.

_Serpentine Path_ is the 2012 full-length debut, following an EP. The band seems dead set on making proper introductions. Rather than continue the work of Unearthly Trance under a new moniker, Serpentine Path travels further along the horizon, embracing a warm tone of death. Instead of moody violent occultism, Serpentine Path, in both album and band, open themselves up to a more timeless dread. This is death/doom for the eons and the ages.

Bagshaw's guitar tone is unmistakably a part of the Electric Wizard universe. Despite Bagshaw playing bass in said band, Serpentine Path's tone glows in the sound of golden era Electric Wizard. Much like the cover done by the talented Orion Landau, Serpentine Path radiates haze and desolation. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this record and how well a death/doom record could sound. To reach the sort of ruin proposed by the band, the tempo needs to crawl, claw, and slither against the cracked earth.

Serpentine Path does more than its share of impressive introductions with this record. The band does a tremendous job at nodding to their own path while focusing on future gain. For the amount of weight given to their listener, the song lengths are reasonable, never passing seven minutes. While someone could certainly balk at the notion of respite, the condensed lengths make everything more enjoyable. I mean, we are still having fun with this, right?

Serpentine Path is a band with a clear idea of where they want to go in the future. One of the most effective songs on the record is "Aphelion", a mid-tempo neckbreaker which nostalgically nods to the band's sludge days. I could think of no other song which captures the essence of this record. At the furthest point away from the sun, there exists a sense of cosmic hopelessness. In the absence of light, there only exists fear and darkness. If I were to hazard a guess on what this would sound like, I think I know the perfect band.

(article published 2/9/2012)


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