Serpents Lair unleash hatred, disgust toward humanity on fiery debut ‘Circumambulating’

Photo by Marie Tellerup Madsen

Photo by Marie Tellerup Madsen

With the holiday season approaching, it’s typically a time for good tidings, joy, and wishing everyone warm and wonderful sentiments. Sadly, a lot of that masks (at least temporarily) a lot of the ill in the world and the fact that many human beings really only spend one period a year being half decent before they’re back on the track to proving their true colors.

It’s always nice to know there are going to be bands out there to call people on this, and one of the latest to do so is Denmark black metal squadron Serpents Lair. All you have to do is go as far as their Facebook page to read their mantra, “We must end the preservation of human life now,” to know all you need to about the intent of their music. So yeah, let this band do a number on your holiday spirit and see how miserable you feel when it’s all over. Hey look, a reality check is a good thing, and if you’re not one of those people out there who only can show humanity and compassion toward people once a year (as much a sham as that is), then perhaps you belong on the other side of the wrecking ball, splattered all over by the war machine. Here’s guessing a whole lot of people aren’t going to miss you.

Serpents Lair coverThere may be some exaggeration coming from me in all of that, but not from Serpents Lair. The band’s debut full-length “Circumambulating the Stillborn” is a seven-track document of pure ferocity. Your head will feel weird, your body will ache, and you will get a heaping dose of filth and disgust once thing things comes to an end. This album is so mighty, it is taking a few forces to push it out into the world. The esteemed Fallen Empire will release the vinyl Stateside (Duplicate has it for our European friends), while the equally as crushing Hellthrasher Productions in Europe will put out the CD version in January. As for the band itself, we have no idea what forces are at work here, because the members have kept their names shrouded in mystery. No matter. Whether they’re grisled vets, newcomers, or a combo of the two, they’re a damn exciting new band that’s worth following all the way to the end.

The eerie intro cut “Epipháneia” starts off with you immersed in strange emanations, rumblings of power, and liturgical choral sections that bleed into “Epistemology of Death,” a 9:22 bruiser. From the start, the track ignites and chugs, with melodies swirling in a hellish vortex, and the growing sounds threatening. The band lets the tempo simmer for the most part, speeding up in places, settling into calm in others. But all the while it’s heavy and serious, with the growls dissolving into moans, the melodies mystifying, and the track eventually finding its terror again. The band hits the gas pedal and wrecks all the way to the close, paving the way for the title cut that begins in a tornado of fire. The vocals are utterly maniacal, scraping and drawing blood, while the band ruptures the gates, storms hard, and lets every element just go off. “Mortui Vivos Docent” has a clean, mystical intro that makes it feel like walking through a misty woodlands. Then the drums starts to bustle, and the track is ripped apart, letting strange playing in to sicken your mind, punishing pounding to leave welts, and the back end to completely explode with a tidal wave of horror before finally dissolving in weird waters.

“The Serpentine Gnosis” lets drums spill in, off-kilter riffs create smoke blankets, and a slowly moving tempo cause damage while is slithers and slides. Eventually there is a burst of power, and the band slashes its way along, with maniacal growls assaulting your senses and strong riffs making soup of your bones. Darkness envelops everything, with guitars threatening underneath, the band hitting a thrashy tempo, and everything reaching yet another spiral that causes vertigo. As we wind to the end, the band clobbers you again and wreaks total havoc before letting things settle for instrumental “Dwelling on the Threshold of Tartarus.” Here, guitars glimmer, the pace hypnotizes, and everything builds to a crescendo, leading to album closer “Devouring Wrathe.” The track instantly catches fire, with the drums devastated and the vocals sounding deathier amid black melodies. Later, the vocals sound more like a shout, while the band lights up and pushes forward with vigor and violence along with these howls that bring complete savagery along with them. The final moments are threatening, mauling, and unforgiving, paying dividends on their promise of complete eradication.

Serpents Lair probably only are looking forward to ringing in a new year if destruction and madness come along with it. The effort they put forth on “Circumambulating the Stillborn” to shed blood is apparent, and that’s something that makes these seven tracks so impactful and smothering. This is a fiery, exciting new flame in the black metal world, and woe to any foolish soul who tries to extinguish that blaze.

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