Eagle Twin - _The Feather Tipped the Serpent's Scale_
(Southern Lord, 2012)
by: Johnathan A. Carbon (7 out of 10)
Bats and Rats. Crows and Snakes. Oh Southern Lord. Where would I be in my musical journey without you guidance? Over the course of a couple of years, I have found Southern Lord releases to fit a certain paradigm. Though all of them are vastly different, the Southern Lord roster exudes a certain experimental edge which sometimes feels more advanced than current records. If I were to bet on any record label being time travelers from 50 years into the future, it would be this one. Please welcome the best sludge record of 2062.

If one starts at the center of heavy metal and walks towards the marshy outskirts, that would be the closest proximity for Eagle Twin's newest record _The Feather Tipped the Serpent's Scale_. I was trying to frame this record and all I came up with was images of gloomy swamps which lay on the border between fairy tales and frightening Jim Henson films. Eagle Twin is the home of bog monsters, old hermits, and swamp witches. _The Feather Tipped the Serpent's Scale_ is a death shriek which echoes in a place which is damn near impossible to find. I may not be ready for this one bit.

Eagle Twin offers much to its listeners but nothing which comes close to easy. The songs are monolithic, sometimes in two parts with abrupt cuts as divisions. There are moments of silence and direction changes which appear without warning. When the tracks do get started, there is a tendency to drone and ride riffs until the bitter end. Nothing is simple, direct or easy. We have traded understanding for heaviness. To some this is approach is grating and of some considerable annoyance. To others, however, it is exactly what is needed.

One concrete fact surrounding Eagle Twin is the existence of only two members. Within the traditional metal world, the guitar/drum combo is virtually unseen. This is perhaps why the band fits perfectly within the Southern Lord realm. The dynamic between the two members is quite exquisite, as both Gentry Densley and Tyler Smith create a conversation which is spoken in the dialect of stoner sludge. There is drive between the two lone instruments as it stamps the dusty road. _The Feather Tipped the Serpent's Scale_ is a daring follow-up to an the already artful release of 2009's _The Unkindness of Crows_ -- a concept record which celebrates the heritage of the fame carrion crawlers. Eagle Twin continues their adoration and devotion to metal which sounds like overgrowth, trotted wood, and charred landscapes.

Eagle Twin, I feel, is one of those bands which "getting it" is absolutely necessary for enjoyment. The two part opener "Ballad of Job Cain" is a perfect litmus test for the rest of the record. If one cannot get through near 20 minutes of cryptic sludge, the _The Feather Tipped the Serpent's Scale_ may not be the best record for a Sunday afternoon. Whether or not it is being conceptually on board with the thematic structure or simply seeing the band live, certain steps are in order for enjoyment. _The Feather Tipped the Serpent's Scale_ is not a record which comes in a basket. At points I feel like I never will "get it". When I finally do, I look back at all this ground covered and smile in accomplishment.

(article published 7/10/2012)


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