I’m not used to that– to life just… working. I’m used to life just working against me. Or seemingly to, at any rate. I’m a bit freaked out when it actually works in my favor.
And yet, here– it seemingly has.
[Sidenote: I just bought a new computer, after six years… and via these downloads from Racer, it’s very weird to me to have only 16 tracks on iTunes (normally it’s over 10K)… I took this as Somehow Important, Somehow Monumental….]
Herein follows two fucking awesome releases from Relapse records– Hooded Menace’s “Effigies of Evil,” and Serpentine Path’s (featuring members of Unearthly Trance, Ramesses and Electric Wizard) self-titled debut.
Both are doom metal. Both are doom metal so obsessed with unholy/infernal vocals that they border on death metal, but are also too obsessed with the riff to truly be death– the sludge, the stoner riffage, the tempo, the sheer DOOM is too obvious to be anything other than than death metal-influenced doom/sludge/ stoner metal….
We open with “Arrows,” with its approximation of the intro to Maiden’s “Number of the Beast,” but this not as cool: too wordy, too long, too high in pitch, not nearly as evil/ metal…. The overall vibe here is of Ramesses meets Unearthly Trance (perhaps not surprisingly– I love it when life is actually logical)… next there’s “Crotalus Horridus Horridus” (apparently the Latin genus and species name fo the timber rattlesnake)… which makes me think: how awesome would it be if every song from Serpentine Path’s record was named somehow for a snake…? It would be the doom metal equivalent of Marvel comics’ Serpent Society!
Of course, then Captain America would show up and kick its ass, but still…! Cool, right…?
Both these bands, particularly SP, are what I’ll call… I dunno… “Lovers of the Detuned Octave.”
Even more so than a doom act like Bongripper, these songs are written around the essentially-ceremonial concept of Detuning a Guitar and then Playing the Lowest Note There, and then: The Next Octave Up on the Scale… and all this, whilst growling over this chord “selection.”
And it’s worth stating explicitly: I’m not hating– this is rather awesome.
“Bats Amongst Heathens,” and its opener, is the best riff on here, but the beginning of “Obsoletion,” with its spirally, “Am I Evil?”-ish trudging is also Rather Quite Awesome, as is the entire tune. “Aphelion” bangs out of the gate with a nice forebeat-bashing riff… “Compendium of Suffering” comes pretty close to Candlemass (were they a death metal band)… and closer “Only a Monolith Remains,” with its minor-third harmonies, chillingly ends the record.
Hooded Menace and their Effigies of Evil are just as detuned as Serpentine Path (in B standard, it seems), and it lets you know this immediately on “Vortex Macabre,” once the infernal winds of the intro pass away… this is a Hallowe’en record, and it’s no less metal and/or great for this… it almost sounds like something Serpentine Path might record as a covers album… each song somehow seems familiar, whilst also being seemingly new, as well as being detuned badassed-ness….
Hooded Menace are much like Serpentine Path in terms of execution and intent (if I may be so bold as to assume I can accurately posit and understand their intent), if only very slightly more (NC-17-ly) cartoonish: larger-than-life, more obviously-yet-obliquely Robert Crumb-ishly evil, and at the same time metal: they’re not mocking metal at all– they’re trying to sweet-talk it and ass-fuck it in the same night….
Bottom line: Serpentine Path and Effigies of Evil will both make my year-end top 10 list. Assess this statement accordingly.