Serpent Obscene

Serpent Obscene

Necropolis Records, 2000

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 09/04/2001

If I remember correctly from watching Cosmos nearly 20 years ago, one of the theories about the "Big Bang" is that the universe will eventually collapse in upon itself. Sometimes, I feel like the whole death metal scene is ready to have that happen.

Now, mind you, I happen to like death metal, moreso for the speed, power and intensity of the music than some of the messages encoded into the songs. But there are so few bands willing to take a chance with the genre; they all seem content to just banging away on their instruments as fast as they can and singing songs of praise to the devil.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Take the Swedish band Serpent Obscene and their self-titled album. Would someone go up to these guys, slap them upside the head and tell them that it's possible to write a song in more than the frickin' key of "E"? Writing songs in the same music key gets repetitious. Writing songs in the same music key gets repetitious. Writing songs in the same music key... whoops, sorry, got locked into the same mindframe the band obviously used.

I'll give the band - vocalist Erik Tormentor, guitarists Nicklas Eriksson and Johan Thörngren, bassist Rob Rocker and drummer Jonas Eriksson - some credit in that they do work in some complicated chord changes in the melodies. But to write every song based around the key of "E" - well, frankly, it gets so tiring that the listener almost becomes numb to the music that's attacking their ears. I mean, give me something to differentiate one track from another, for Jah's sake!

Clocking in at just under 29 minutes, Serpent Obscene blast through nine tracks which, as a whole, aren't terrible. But the band seems perfectly content sticking with the same game plan that so many other death metal bands have used over and over again that some of the power of the better tracks, such as "Pestilent Seed (The Plague)," "Evil Rites" and "Serpent Prophecy" are lost in the haze.

Granted, the "torture" sequence that completes "Act Of Aggression" does inject some originality to the mix - but it almost feels like too little, too late as the disc fades off into completion. And Serpent Obscene seems like a band who are still discovering just who they are, which might explain sticking with some of the cookie-cutter death metal. (Admittedly, the satanic references are kept to a minimum - so I guess there's something different the band is doing.)

Of course, true devotees to the death metal scene will probably find much more in Serpent Obscene to cheer about, and more power to them in that regard. But it would be nice to hear this band try and take some kind of a musical chance the next time around. It's not a bad disc, but Serpent Obscene hardly sets themselves apart from the rest of the crowd.

Rating: C+

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© 2001 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Necropolis Records, and is used for informational purposes only.