Serdce - _Timelessness_
(Blood Music, 2014)
by: Aly Hassab El Naby (8.5 out of 10)
In a time when death metal bands can create technically complicated music and weave it into patterns that bring to mind the sensibilities of old-school progressive rock, a listener's ability to pay attention for more than fifty minutes and digest the music becomes a valuable commodity. So with the proliferation of death metal bands with a penchant for the complex and the progressive, deciding to do away with several sets of sixty six minutes of your time to fully digest _Timelessness_ by Serdce may not seem like a natural thing to do for a band so unknown and with a name you're not even sure how to pronounce. This indeed is a demanding album with lots of twists and turns, but the return on the investment of time and attention is definitely worth it all.

_Timelessness_ is the fourth full-length by Serdce, from the Belarusian capital Minsk. This forward-thinking quartet hosts a few guests throughout this record as the saxophone, the ozark (or Jew's) harp and the duduk (a woodwind instrument of Armenian origin) make their marks on the album. The duduk is the first guest to show up on _Timelessness_ and what an ethereal atmosphere it creates. Its use on the introductory track "Into Shambhala" highlights the band's understanding of triggering different emotions with sound and not throwing all their attention at the heavy stuff.

Wrapping one's head around this beguiling feast of progressiveness is not an easy task in any sense. The album is dotted with brilliant sections of individual skill from this quartet and their three guests. In addition to that, the collective musicianship is also stellar. Whenever the guitarist goes off on a rampant solo, the bassist is right there behind him with a solid foundation, like on "Unique Paths". At another moment, when it's the keyboardist's turn to bask in the glory of solo virtuosity, the guitar and the drums team up ever so cleverly to provide a launching pad like on "Last Faith". Yet despite sounding like a band that sees no shame in full-on Atheist worship (oops) on a couple of occasions -- namely on "Samadhi" and "The Sixth Sense" -- the continuously shifting dynamics all over the album completely overshadow the idea that there's merely copying going on here.

_Timelessness_ is an acquired taste of the highest order. The album's length alone may be the first thing that turns a neophyte off, not to mention the band's obscurity and what could be judged as a 'not metal enough' vocalist. Yet with a little patience and possibly the right surroundings, the album slowly reveals its confounding brilliance and provides a myriad of haunting moments that stick to the mind like timeless earworms. This a commanding prog-metal fest that comes with the traditional guitar-bass-keyboards-drums arrangement and a glockenspiel, a saxophone, an Armenian woodwind instrument and a plucked idiophone native to the Turkic people and it all makes sense at the end of the sixty six minutes. This is a terrific album that deserves a lot more than six hundred and sixty minutes.


(article published 27/11/2014)

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