Saturday 15 August 2020

Serpent Eater - Vanitas

Labels: Alerta Antifascista Records//Wooaaargh Records/7 Degrees Records

Formats: Vinyl/Download

Release Date: 25 Jan 2020


1. Echo Chamber

2. Hook Blind

3. Ten Floors Down

4. Hypnos

5. Dead Spiritualist Silent

6. Dunkelziffer

7. Lurking Fear

Well, we've all made it to the end of another week. In spite of everything the world is throwing at us right now, we are resilient. That's why the subject of tonight's review is so fitting. Enter Cologne (Germany's) Serpent Eater, who released their third full-length Vanitas in January of this year, via Alerta Antifascista Records, Wooaaargh Record and 7 Degrees Records respectively. Serpent Eater stands for all that is good in the world and is here to crush everything that threatens the creation of a more harmonious society.

It seems my neighbours are shouting at each other again, which is always great! Let’s see if I can drown them out with some more intelligent sounds. Serpent Eater call themselves black punk and I think that’s pretty apt, though opening song ‘Echo Chamber’ is very much more black than punk. Shrieked and low-growled vocals exist alongside black metal instrumentation, including melodic but menacing guitars, pummelling drums and choral synths. All good so far!

‘Hook Blind’ comes at you almost instantly after the close of ‘Echo Chamber’ and it’s sub two-minute length means that there’s no time for messing around. Dissonance, crust and feedback all lay waste to any chance of a mental and physical rest. In fact, there isn’t much of a gap between any of the songs on Vanitas and that’s certainly a good thing when it comes to the momentum of the album. ‘Ten Floors Down’ begins with a post-rock/metal intro that suddenly bursts into more doom-filled black metal. It’s another uncomfortably warm evening here and this record isn’t making it any more bearable (in a good way). 

One thing’s for sure, the sound on here is certainly engrossing and ‘Hypnos’ is a stunning piece of mid-paced extreme metal with plenty of majestic lead-work, it’s not especially long but that doesn’t matter, because it’s full of atmosphere and genuine musical craft. Following like the proverbial mammal out of hell, ‘Dead Spiritualist Silent’ once again grows wings and flies forth with bucket loads of low-end. It’s the perfect precursor to the album’s final two songs, both of which are long players. ‘Dunkelziffer’ is just a more drawn-out version of what’s come before but it’s worthy of a lot more praise for being as progressive as it is.

Album closer ‘Lurking Fear’ initially heralds a more death/doom-like sound with slow riffs and wailing feedback, but you know something colder is around the corner and sure enough Serpent Eater’s cavernous black metal adds to the already dank atmosphere of the song. As finisher’s go, this is damn solid and reminds my of the horrible sounds that emanated from the likes of Meth Drinker (RIP) and Leechfeast, more than any black metal band I can think of at this point. The latter half of ‘Lurking Fear’ picks up the pace and rolls forth with a more black ’n roll vibe, albeit without being as cheesy.

This is a really good album from a band that favours song-writing and atmosphere over gimmicks and fashion. They sit perfectly amongst the Alerta Antifascista roster too. While 2020 continues to throw up challenges and disarray, Vanitas provides not only the soundtrack but also a moment of clarity where you remember that you can’t control everything, so you might as well just roll with it.

You can stream and grab Vanitas as a name-your-price download from Serpent Eater below:-

Serpent Eater -

Physical copies can be purchased from the labels below:-

Alerta Antifascista Records -

Wooaaargh Records -

7 Degrees Records -

Alerta Antifascista Records -

Wooaaargh Records -

7 Degrees Records -

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