|Dearth Metal, Doom Metal
May 27th, 2014
Release length: 44:56
Emanations carries a rich, deeper audio quality, complimented with lower tuned instruments and a hint of raw production values. While this is usually a good sign for Doom Metal albums, this one kind of drops the ball. Either Serpentine Path just fails to utilize this trait properly, or the audio simply doesn’t work with the group considering each track sounds promising in the band’s performances, but nearly all end up bland and generic. The distant harsher growls are the only aspect of the recording that shows any signs of life, while the instruments all sound flat, thin and unimpressive a good majority of the time, especially on the shorter offerings.
“Essence of Heresy” shows a bit of that Unearthly Trance background in the trudging lead riffs, gleaming hints of Sludge Metal composition throughout the recording, though the buzzing hooks that hit a little more than a minute in give the song a brief Middle Eastern desert sensation. The creepy guitar solo also breathes a little life into the mix, leading to a surprisingly crushing climax that accentuates the bass a little more than before that dies down a bit for “House of Worship” despite being bled into. This cut does have some catchy riffs in some spots that tighten the gaps up a little bit for the chorus and some bridges, but for the most part it’s a simple drum pattern against four notes with the final one held for a few seconds, a formula you will hear more of in the songs to come. Meanwhile “Disfigured Colossus,” the last of the shorter cuts, often sounds like its trying to be ominous, but the chords and repetitive cymbals in the passages make it too restrictive, only moderately succeeding in making the chorus more abrasive than the other two.
Oddly enough it’s the longer tracks that offer a little more bite from time to time. “Claws” plods along at the group’s established slower pace with little to show for it most of the time. Much like the rest, the performance sounds dull and even formulaic, finding the riffs themselves even sleepwalking through the first four minutes. By that point some additional clean leads come in to pave the way for a little more energy and some creepy hooks with random hints of classic Doom Rock littered here and there. There’s some unnerving noise during the main verses of “Torment” as well, but it’s hard to tell if those are clean riffs buried for some reason, or just some noise on one of the instruments somewhere adding a bit of a Progressive Death Metal touch to the mix. Either way it’s the only interesting bit of this one, though “Treacherous Waters” is the one that stands out the most. It uses those simple riffs with the final note held for a bit, but the drums have a mixture of trance inducing patterns or additional complexity that kill the gaps the monotone mid-range tuning leaves behind. Even some of the guitars break that monotone output on occasion to give some passages a little more fire to them.
One thing that does need to be mentioned is some additional static towards the end. This could very well just be a glitch in the digital promo I received, so I won’t take it into account when scoring it, but if this is intentional it simply serves no purpose other than to wake you up. Just past the five and a half minute mark on “Disfigured Goddess” it sounds like the tape to a cassette nearly tore in half violently, causing brief jolts of static to skip along until the end. It carries into the start of “Systematic Extinction” as well, and pops up from time to time during it and “Torment,” though more towards the end on both. The only reason to possibly think this is intentional is due to it happens the exact moment the drums end on “Disfigured Goddess.”
Overall, Emanations isn’t really a bad album, it just doesn’t have anything that really grabs you. When you dissect the songs, the performances themselves appear solid enough to be engaging, and the audio quality itself is prime to make a blunt album even more heavy due to the deep, raw touch it has. But the entire thing just sounds boring. The chords constantly sound similar and repetitive while the drum patterns often match their simplicity. Even the vocals tone it down on some songs, while others are enthusiastic the entire time and bring in most of what little bite exists on this release. Some material does grow on you after spending some time with the release and learning to look past the stale instruments, but even then it sounds like Serpentine Path is almost sleepwalking through Emanations, making for a very thin, mediocre follow-up.
01. Essence of Heresy – 3:48
02. House of Worship – 4:16
03. Treacherous Waters – 7:45
04. Claws – 7:30
05. Disfigured Colossus – 5:59
06. Systematic Extinction – 7:14
07. Torment – 8:24
|Initial Pressing Score: 4.5/10