Bombs of Hades: The Serpent’s Redemption

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Bombs of Hades: The Serpent’s Redemption
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Bombs of Hades: The Serpent's Redemption
Death Metal
Pulverised Records
September 17th, 2013
Release length: 38:53
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Formed back in 2002, the Swedish born Death Metal group Bombs of Hades aren’t really on the tongues of the underground enthusiasts, but at the same time, aren’t so obscure that you couldn’t find them if you knew where to look. The group’s Crust Punk roots do show through in a manner similar to revivalists of the early days of the style such as Cretin and Barren Earth, hitting fans hard through their first full-length album Chambers of Abominations back in 2010, and the slew of EP and Split releases before and after its wake. For 2012, they return to the studio to record a little under forty minutes of new material. But, given that a whole new album could have been put together from the ten tracks issued on various other releases, are these cuts going to end up more like fodder, or have they composed the best for last?

First of all, the audio quality to The Serpent’s Redemption isn’t all that great. Everything is rather crisp, but nothing really packs much of a punch when not hammering away at high speeds. The guitars have a decent distortion that is rather rich and low in tone, working well with the loud, deep bass. The snares are podded up a bit too much in the mix, hindered by how tight they become, and the pop from being hit ends up more dominant than the actual sound they emit from within. The bass kicks have a weaker thud to them that, at times, can really be drowned out by the aforementioned snares, especially if you don’t really know what you’re looking for. This can also impact the cymbals that end up pushed back in the mix to the point where they become a hit-or-miss necessity to filling the music. The vocals have a bit of a vile rhasp to the guttural approach, and become the only thing that really seems to have any enthusiasm behind them at all times, standing out greatly amid the off-and-on restrained music.

The Serpent’s Redemption offers up a decent variety. The album kicks off with “Crawl Away and Bleed Forever,” incorporating a darker atmosphere that is carried on throughout, and a fierce drum performance that sticks out and enriches the music entirely into a catchy, two-stepping headbaning mandate. This is one of the very few songs where you can really feel the energy within the group’s ranks, though some bridges do venture off into chaotic foundations that sound muffled, failing to excite before the groove-heavy slower sections a little after the two minute mark, causing the issues of the snares and bass kicks to protrude a lot worse than they did earlier, greatly sterilizing the infection before it all concludes and gives way to “Darkness, My Soul.” This next song sticks with the early Death Metal sound, but ushers in a good deal of Thrash intensity that fans of Goatwhore would enjoy. The guitar solo sounds great, and again the two-stepping, as well as stronger focus on the bass kicks in some areas, gives the song a greater impact that allows it to stick out a lot better than “Crawl Away and Bleed Forever,” as well as some of the others that start to show more of a decline as the music proceeds.

The coming tracks do vary in enjoyment, but the faster, crust-driven material often does stand out. “Incubus Descending” has a stronger faster pace without the two-stepping, making it a far more sinister offering that works well with the audio quality to present enough energy to grab you by the throat. But, at the same time, you can’t help but feel as if this is just a rewrite to “Black Metal” by Venom, especially when the music completely stops and the lyrics chime out “Lay out your soul to the gods of death!” However, “Skull Collector” does about the same without coming off as much of a rip-off, as well as introducing the two-step back into the mix once more. While that aforementioned sinister tone may not be present, it still comes off a tighter performance that throws back to the start of the album to put the band’s best foot forward once more. “Scorched Earth” ends things on a bit of a high note in that it does drag things out, but in a very atmospheric manner. The slower music takes on a bit of a Stoner Rock trance meets Doom Metal pace, segwaying in-and-out of hard hitting, catchy Death Metal similar to “Burn,” but a bit more intense and less generic. These shifts occur here and there throughout the over ten minute creation. There also is a strong focus on the atmosphere, utilizing some audio samples that do add a creepy touch to the track, as well as closure to the dismal environments the audio quality, and even the music itself, does carry from the start.

Unfortunately, one of the biggest upsets on this album is the track “The Serpent’s Redemption.” While Bombs of Hades manage to capture an Egyptian vibe that plays off the somewhat darker atmosphere of the recording, much of the song just ends up bland due to the sterile music. On top of that, it just seems to go on forever, nearly clocking in at seven minutes, though easily getting the point across by the three and a half to four minute mark. Aside that, there’s also the song “Burn,” which comes off a split with Mordbrand. Though the audio quality remains the same as the rest of this album, almost immediately you can tell it wasn’t really a song specifically for this recording, as the foundation is far different. Again, this song shows shades of being less-than-original, as the Groove behind it can immediately make Sodom fans reminisce of the song “Blood On Your Lips.”

Overall, The Serpent’s Redemption‘s biggest hurdle to overcome was the audio quality, and unfortunately it doesn’t do a good job of doing so. When the music is faster and tighter, Bombs of Hades do present some solid material that will have you banging your head along. Unfortunately, when it’s not, it can really come off lifeless and boring, leaving much to end up as if a compilation of b-sides not used in their various split or EP efforts. With only a handful of songs that will actually make you pay attention, The Serpent’s Redemption ends up a release that becomes an unmemborable test of patience with sprinkles of gold that may not be enough to keep you from hitting the stop button before the first time through even concludes.

01. Crawl Away And Bleed Forever – 4:25
02. Darkness, My Soul – 3:36
03. Burn – 3:30
04. The Serpent’s Redemption – 6:39
05. Forgotten In Graves – 4:22
06. Incubus Descending – 3:34
07. Skull Collector – 2:37
08. Scorched Earth – 10:10
Overall Score: 4/10
Bombs of Hades (band)
Bombs of Hades (logo)
Digital review copy of this release provided by Pulverised Records via Earsplit PR.