Despite geographical distance, Serpent Column are inseparable with Southern European philosophies and ancient history. They hail their mystical name from artefacts of Periclean Greece and make no secret of their aim to shake up the Black Metal scene. Out goes the depressive snowy-peaks and folk horror of Northern European Black Metal for a new-fangled exploration of ancient Grecian conquest and mythology. Be afraid.
The first instinct once you acclimatise to Endless Detainment’s intensity is, “This is something we haven’t heard before.” ‘Pantheoclasm’ shakes you conscious amid the battlements, boasting all the strengths and influences of Serpent Column’s take on Math-Rock and Black Metal fusion. Victory is a blood-soaked struggle away as a hoplite spear is thrust into your hands and pulls you into the fog of war. The rhythmic detours of this track echo the Math-Rock intensity of other Post-Hardcore and American Extreme Metal giants, such as The Dillinger Escape Plan and Gospel. Which is perfect if you want down-tuned bass guitars to underpin singer and guitarist Theophilos’s pained wails in place of icy tremolos. It brings a modern progressive hint of the guitar styles of Mathcore/ Djent bands like Car Bomb to mind. If other Black Metal projects have evoked the relentless snowstorm, ‘Pantheoclasm’ is the avalanche.
One of the first habits you’ll notice in Endless Detainment is the breakneck blast beats that cut through Suffocation style grooves. This happens a great deal in the meat of the EP, for instance on the two-part track, ‘Wars Waged in Private’. These changes turn up the intensity with great effect, highlighting an important element of the Serpent Column framework for success. The band prioritise fluidity in their riffs with drums that aim to chase them until the end of the iron age.
On occasion, the comfort blanket of unexpected blast beats will start to embody more the sensation of paying your bills than setting them ablaze, and this can add to the feeling that some tracks are left unrealised and directionless. The one-and-a half-minute ‘Manure In Pearls’ starts out with a killer riff, flirting with double bass kicks to rival the metallic grooves of Gojira. But the momentum falls apart in the swirling and discordant runs up the guitar neck towards the close. Touching on the freer form sounds of Grindcore or Noise Rock could always seem a step in the right direction, but Endless Detainment already wrestles with too many incongruous experiments that end up mutually destructive.
Some may come away from this project as defeated as the pensive figure on the cover art, but Serpent Column deliver their brand of blackened sonic whiplash with panache. They carry the torch for Black Metal and Math-Rock fusion, and Endless Detainment will excite listeners looking for niches away from the foothills of old school Norwegian Metal. In combination with their vision, this EP is an exciting success and captures the band’s eminent ferocity.
Release Date: 17/03/2020
Record Label: Mystískaos Records
Standout tracks: Pantheoclasm, Endless Detainment
Suggested Further Listening: Gospel – The Moon Is A Dead World (2005), Deathspell Omega – Paracletus (2010), Suffocation – Effigy of the Forgotten (1991)