Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Album Review: Serpentine Dominion - S/T

Stop me if you've heard this joke before; Killswitch Engage and Cannibal Corpse walk into a bar....

But seriously, it sounds like an odd combination to hear that Adam D of Killswitch Engage has written and recorded an album alongside George 'Corpsegrinder' Fisher of Cannibal Corpse. On the other hand, when you give it a little thought, it does start to make sense. Metalcore does borrow liberally from the death metal playbook, so it's not entirely out of line to see what would happen if you removed the clean sung choruses, and focused solely on the crushing heavy death metal parts. That's what we get here.

This is a rare case where the short introductory track is not the least bit superfluous. Segueing from acoustic guitars to a steady buildup of electrics and heavy metal, the stage is set to remind us that we're about to hear music aimed to rip our faces off. The first track, "Vengeance In Me" does exactly that. Over a little more than two minutes, there is such a flurry of riffs and drums that it's almost hard to comprehend exactly what's going on. There's still a sense of groove amid the shredding, which keeps the music from getting too chaotic.

"Vanquished Unto Thee" actually backtracks on the album's promise a bit. There's still a lot of pure death metal, but the clean background vocals that carry the chorus bring the song much closer to Killswitch territory than I would have ever expected. Perhaps for that reason, I think it's the best track on the album. Although, to be fair, Adam D's writing comes from a place removed enough from death metal that he's able to sprinkle some groove into the otherwise impenetrable mass of guitars that rip through track after track.

I'm not sure what I was expecting this album to sound like, but it wasn't exactly this. This is a ferocious album, one that I have to imagine death metal fans are going to eat up. I'm not one, but I was curious about this union, and now that I've heard it, I have to admit that I find it more interesting than what both of their main bands have been doing lately. Adam D brings a different perspective to death metal, and Fisher gives a completely different reading on Killswitch's heavier moments. It's something that might not have been supposed to work, but it does.

And thankfully, this album knows not to overstay its welcome. It's a short record, but really, as blistering as it is, I don't think asking us to absorb more of this at once would have been a good idea.

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