Album Review – Serpentrance / Akra Tapeinosis (2021)

This infernal Russian Sepulchral Death Metal horde comes ripping with their debut full-length opus, offering us all their raw and vile view of “the Utmost Humiliation”.

3.5rating

serpentrance-akra-tapeinosis-2021Recorded, mixed and mastered by the band’s own guitarist Spīritō Destitutus in the desolate temples of doom, and displaying a beyond blasphemous artwork by the band’s own vocalist Morkh at Nether Temple Design, the excellent Akra Tapeinosis (or “the Utmost Humiliation”), is not only the debut full-length opus by Russian horde Serpentrance and the follow-up to their 2015 EP The Besieged Sanctum, but also a lesson in Black, Death and Doom Metal by this uncanny entity, or as the band itself likes to label their own sound, a fulminating exhibit of “Sepulchral Death Metal”. Formed in 2014, the band currently comprised of the aforementioned Morkh and Spīritō Destitutus together with bassist HTM and drummer Noersyl Skept is ready to darken the hearts of the unbelievers with their unique style and otherworldly sounds, proving once again why Russia is the go-to place for the most disturbing forms of extreme music you can think of.

Gregorian vociferations permeate the air in the Stygian opening tune Vomit & Myrrh, exploding into a primeval fusion of Black and Doom Metal that will haunt the souls of the lighthearted where Morkh sounds like a creature from the underworld on vocals, while Noersyl Skept hammers his drums in great fashion; followed by Clothed in Abomination, with its darkly poetic words (“Cathedrals howling in awe / The old woman of apocalypse awakes / To feed the hunger of the devoted ones / By the coffins of the blessed tree”) being beautifully complemented by a raw, sluggish sonority. Furthermore, the riffs by Spīritō Destitutus exhale pure sulfur, supported by the menacing bass by HTM in an ode to Blackened Doom. And Spīritō Destitutus keeps slashing his stringed axe with tons of hatred and obscurity in The Tarnished Shrines of God, another venomous tune by Serpentrance where the deep guttural growling by Morkh will penetrate deep inside your psyche and drag you into pitch black darkness for all eternity.

After such intense and bold display of damnation and hatred, get ready for over 11 minutes of a demented hybrid of Black, Death and Doom Metal by the quartet spearheaded by the demonic riffage by Spīritō Destitutus and the thunderous drums by Noersyl Skept entitled Underneath Babylon, not to mention how vile Morkh’s roars sound and feel in a lecture in sheer doom for admirers of the most sulfurous side of music. And last but not least, we’re treated to the superb The Black Dawn of Sophia, offering our avid ears one final round of Serpentrance’s wicked lyrics (“Man, hast thou felt the rising winds of death / Howling among these ancient marble walls? / There, below, crawling the procession / Groveling beneath the corroding sun”) to close the album on a high and infernal note. Put differently, it’s a flawless, neck-breaking aria that positions the band as one of the most interesting names of the Russian underground scene, ending the album on an absolutely cadaverous vibe.

serpentrance-2021If you think you can endure sheer darkness in the form of the Sepulchral Death Metal blasted by Serpentrance, you can stream the full album on YouTube, and in case you survive that metallic onslaught you can join Serpentrance’s horde by following them on Facebook and getting to know more about the band, their tour dates and their plans for the future. And above all that, of course, don’t forget to purchase a copy of Akra Tapeinosis from the Godz ov War Productions’ BandCamp page or webstore in CD, LP or cassette formats, showing your true love and admiration for sick and impious doom. Serpentrance are just starting in their grim and sulfurous career, and Akra Tapeinosis is the undisputed statement that they’re indeed following the right (and by that I mean infernal) path to conquer the world of extreme music in a not-so-distant future.

Best moments of the album: Vomit & Myrrh and The Black Dawn of Sophia.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2021 Godz ov War Productions

Track listing  
1. Vomit & Myrrh 7:34
2. Clothed in Abomination 7:38
3. The Tarnished Shrines of God 7:14
4. Underneath Babylon 11:35
5. The Black Dawn of Sophia 9:10

Band members
Morkh – vocals
Spīritō Destitutus – guitars
HTM – bass
Noersyl Skept – drums

Album Review – Tableau Mort / Veil of Stigma. Book I: Mark of Delusion (2019)

A spiritual journey exploring humanity’s fixation with knowledge, sacrifice and perfection in the form of atmospheric and emotional Black Metal.

Drawing on symbolic and thematic influences from Romanian Orthodox Christianity, Veil of Stigma. Book I: Mark of Delusion, the debut album by British Black Metal horde Tableau Mort, is a spiritual journey exploring humanity’s fixation with knowledge, sacrifice and perfection, which is often a path to madness. Recorded and produced by Jerry Sadowski and George Topor, mixed and mastered by Neil Haynes at Parlour Studios, and featuring a beyond obscure artwork by Alex Shadrin (Nether Temple Design), Veil of Stigma. Book I: Mark of Delusion will bring to your ears a truly atmospheric and emotional sound that is both melodic and melancholic, also mixing Orthodox chanting with frenzied screams to expand on the band’s macabre foundations.

Formed in 2017 in London, the band comprised of veteran musicians of the underground scene (all of Romanian origin), those being James Andrews on lead vocals, George Topor on the guitar, keys and backing vocals, Cristian Giurgiu also on the guitar, Marek Basista on bass and George Bratosin on drums and backing vocals, might describe themselves as a Black Metal band, but there are in fact a lot more aspects and layers to their sound, resulting in the modern and powerful music found in Veil of Stigma. Book I: Mark of Delusion. Not only that, the band also invests heavily on their onstage performance and attire, proving those servants of the dark are more than prepared to spread their blasphemous message all over the world no matter who their enemies are.

Darkness is already upon us in the melodic and boisterous opening track Impending Corruption, where atmospheric keys complement the slashing riffs by George Topor and Cristian while James leads the horde with his fiendish gnarls and screeches. After such ominous start it’s time for Fall of Man and its darkly poetic lyrics (“And I find in your face, a most unfamiliar maze / I gaze at the sky as the colour bleeds out of space / In this moment of grief I light myself ablaze”), a Black Metal mass with hints of classic Blackened Doom (which obviously makes it even more menacing) where George Bratosin sounds extremely precise and brutal at the same time on drums. And it seems Tableau Mort want to get darker and darker as the album progresses, just like what we’re able to witness in Carpenter Of Sorrow, with Marek’s low-tune, devilish bass lines building a thunderous base for James to thrive with his unearthly roars; whereas Broken On The Wheel is a sonic mass of Stygian and venomous sounds where George Topor and Cristian are absolutely infernal with their guitars, while George Bratosin alternates between blast beats and doomed, intricate passages for our vulgar delectation.

Leaning towards classic Norwegian Black Metal, the band offers us an explosion of the most aggressive and obscure sounds you can think of in Tapestry Sewn, where James and George Bratosin sound utterly demonic on vocals and drums, respectively, and also bringing the most obscure elements from old school Doom Metal, therefore being prohibited for the lighthearted.  The band’s guitar duo keep crushing their sulfurous strings in Mother’s Promise while Marek and George Bratosin make the earth tremble with their weapons, inspiring us all to bang our heads and raise our horns to this ode to all things evil. Last but not least, a gargantuan amount of heaviness flows from all instruments in Beyond His Gaze, reeking of despair and insanity and showcasing captivating, poetic lyrics (“In Every blade of grass that shoots from the ground / The animals that graze, the parasites that feed / The rays of the sun that penetrate the darkness / The breeze that carries the rain”). Furthermore, the beyond demonic growling by James adds an extra touch of malignancy to this devilish aria, putting a climatic ending to such astounding album.

Tableau Mort’s lecture in Romanian Orthodox Christianity in the form of somber and disturbing Black Metal can be appreciated in its entirety on YouTube and on Spotify, but of course if you want to show your true support to those UK metallers simply follow them on Facebook and purchase your copy of Veil of Stigma. Book I: Mark of Delusion from Loud Rage Music’s BandCamp or webstore, as well as from Apple Music, Amazon or Discogs. Tableau Mort are definitely pinning the entire UK on the worldwide map of Black Metal with their music, and based on their skills, passion for heavy music and creativity, they have the potential to become one of the references of the genre in the coming years, leaving their mark already upon humanity with Veil of Stigma. Book I: Mark of Delusion, and leaving us eager for more of their cryptic creations.

Best moments of the album: Fall of Man and Tapestry Sewn.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2019 Loud Rage Music

Track listing
1. Impending Corruption 4:32
2. Fall of Man 6:17
3. Carpenter Of Sorrow 4:37
4. Broken On The Wheel 4:55
5. Tapestry Sewn 5:02
6. Mother’s Promise 4:41
7. Beyond His Gaze 6:18

Band members
James Andrews – lead vocals
George Topor – guitar, keys, backing vocals
Cristian Giurgiu – guitar
Marek Basista – bass
George Bratosin – drums, backing vocals