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Serpentcult - "Raised By Wolves" (CD/EP)

Serpentcult - "Raised By Wolves" CD/EP cover image

"Raised By Wolves" track listing:

1. Raised by Wolves
2. Crippled and Frozen
3. Longing for Hyperborea
4. Growth of the Soil

Reviewed by on September 23, 2011

"I must say that while I like their older style, I like even more the direction that SerpentCult has chosen with this new one, 'Raised by Wolves.'"

SerpentCult has a band history that reads like a novel. Spawned from the group Thee Plague of Gentlemen, they decided on a name change to SerpentCult (the intended name to their second album) to distance themselves after one of their band members was indicted on sordid charges. Being one of the few female-fronted doom metal bands around, they again had a clash to their image when vocalist Michelle Nocon left, leaving the remaining three to forge ahead as a trio.

They never did recruit another full-time singer, and that change is readily audible on SerpentCult's new CD "Raised by Wolves." Besides the general absence of much vocalization, there is also the fact that this album, while over 40 minutes in length, only consists of four songs. The epic nature of each song is yet another derivative of their stylistic changes.

"Raised by Wolves" definitely plays like an entire movement of songs segued together as chapters. Unlike their previous work, the music they have made this time is not exclusively sludge doom. It is redolent in experimental qualities, ambient noise and a starkly quieter branch of black metal. The title track is the only song with discernable vocals, commencing this excursion into a loop of droning noise bolstered by sections of doom riffing every so often, to keep down the mundane factor. Especially nice are the sounds of crows, thunder and pouring rain at the beginning and end of this song. The next track, "Crippled and Frozen," is segued in from the title cut and ushers in all the rest of the instrumental tunes. It's an average song consisting of high-end trebled guitar and a wave of ambient noise. This is probably as close to the bleak black metal stylings as SerpentCult approaches on this release.

They also try their hand at 70's-style jam music on "Longing for Hyperborea." From the cymbal, pedal and bass action to the prolonged drum soloing, along with the warped fade-in/out sounds toward the end, this track was a good 12-minute journey evoking a groove similar to Iron Butterfly in its tripped out style. A basic doom/sludge track was bound to appear, since that's SerpentCult's forte - and it comes in the shape of the last song, "Growth of the Soil." The guitar lumbers into it in great slo-mo doom fashion, building with muffled, far-off screams toward the end. This track and its predecessor on the album especially have that hypnotic effect.

I must say that while I like their older style, I like even more the direction that SerpentCult has chosen with this new one, "Raised by Wolves." The absence of their previous vocalist has not hampered them from putting out a very interesting, albeit short, album that takes the mind on a journey.

Highs: A fusion of styles that brings about a hypnotic effect

Lows: Sometimes the songs drone on, a quality of ambient noise

Bottom line: An interesting direction by a band that takes chances.

Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls
3.5 out of 5 skulls


Key
Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)