Album Review – Serpents Lair / Circumambulating the Stillborn (2015)

If you’re one of those black metallers who can only live in darkness to survive the downfall of our putrescent society, this album is for you.

Rating4

serpents lair coverLet’s keep the streak of darkness alive and burning at The Headbanging Moose with yet another nefarious, caustic and sulphurous Black Metal brigade, this time hailing from the blazing fires of Sjælland, a large island that’s part of Denmark and that’s home to the capital Copenhagen and to the city of Roskilde, among other smaller towns and villages. The band in question is called Serpents Lair, and they’re bringing forth their debut full-length album entitled Circumambulating the Stillborn, a series of dissonant and kaleidoscopic Black Metal hymns tailored for diehard metallers who chose darkness as their sanctuary.

Formed in 2013, Serpents Lair already took the underworld of metal music by storm in 2014, when they released their demo named MMXIV. What was already evil in that demo became even more heinous in Circumambulating the Stillborn due not only to the refined production of the new album, which can also be seen on the amazing cover art by Misanthropic-Art Illustrations, but mainly to the advancements in their compositions, putting together a classic Black Metal sonority with the heartache and sorrow of Doom Metal and Blackened Doom.

What starts like an aria at the house of worship, named by the band as Epipháneia, suddenly becomes a Black Metal attack entitled Epistemology of Death, sounding cleaner than usual but still putrid and devilish. This 9-minute opus, which was one of their demo tracks, offers the listener winged riffs and beats interspersed with obscure and sluggish passages, always blustering those desperate growls and howls of dark music.

serpents lair photoThe title-track, Circumambulating the Stillborn, an old school Black Metal tune with piercing riffs and unholy lyrics (“We salute thee harbingers of the end of man / Oh ye true nihilists, bringer of empty chalices / For thou shalt be the error correcting itself / As thouest thirst to death / In denial of the nothing you bring”), sounds diabolically mesmerizing especially when it slows down; while Mortui Vivos Docent presents an ominous and ritualistic intro before morphing into a profane mass, displaying a demonic musicality with aggressive vocals and fiendish riffs. Furthermore, it never gets too heavy or too fast, just vile enough to disturb our minds from start to finish.

If you thought things couldn’t get more doomed, Serpents Lair bring you an outstanding ode to torment named The Serpentine Gnosis. It is Blackened Doom breathing sulfur from the pits of hell, with its killer drumming and possessed roars only making things even more gripping. And after an eerie instrumental tune named Dwelling on the Threshold to Tartarus, the band burns our souls with the amazing Devouring Wrathe, an ancient form of Black Metal with the album’s high-end production intensifying its blasphemous words (“Spare no praying man, / As he is not of glorious potential / Invite the odious omnipotence / To descend with divine purpose / Let it revelate itself / Upon the congregations of so called righteousness”), its relentless riffs and a morbid feeling of hopelessness to close the album.

In summary, the doomed Black Metal crafted by Serpents Lair at their unhallowed den undoubtedly deserves a shot, in special if you’re one of those metallers who can only live in darkness to survive the downfall of our putrescent society. With that said, you can listen to their music on their YouTube channel, and find Circumambulating the Stillborn for sale at their BandCamp page, at the Fallen Empire Records webstore (US) or at the Duplicate Records webstore (Europe). Just go for it if you have the guts.

Best moments of the album: Circumambulating the Stillborn and The Serpentine Gnosis.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2015 Hellthrasher Productions/Fallen Empire Records/Duplicate Records

Track listing
1. Epipháneia 1:30
2. Epistemology of Death 9:22
3. Circumambulating the Stillborn 5:17
4. Mortui Vivos Docent 8:30
5. The Serpentine Gnosis 8:57
6. Dwelling on the Threshold to Tartarus 2:55
7. Devouring Wrathe 7:04

Band members
*Information not available*

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