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Although I personally consider this to be the second best song on “In Sorte Diaboli” behind “The Heretic Hammer”, this inescapably catchy slab of big screen musical score clichés perfectly embodies the character of Dimmu Borgir, and also explains why they are loved by many non-Black Metal fans and scorned by the strictest adherents of the genre. They’ve essentially compressed all the raw energy and canceled out most of the Progressive spirit that typified Emperor and a few others, married it to one of the most familiar sounding yet still original fanfare melodies conceived by a metal band, and put out something too extreme for the parents to approve of, but just tame enough to pass for radio.
“The Serpentine Offering” listens like the opening music to some darker variant of “The Lord Of The Rings” meets “Conan The Barbarian”, but with a simplistic set of blackened thrash riffs and a haze of double bass driven beats. Hellhammer has lost none of his speed and precision in the 19 years that he’s been at it, but here his kit has received a modern production boost that sounds highly comparable to most current day melodeath bands. The clicking quality of the bass drum sound can get a little tiresome after a while if one pays too much attention to it, but most of what goes on around it lightens the effect. The main draw is the keyboards, and that John Williams oriented horn theme that kicks off and then restates the song’s accessible nature instantaneously makes even the most discerning of listeners apathetic to the fact that it rests on top of a 2 chord progression.
As someone who has come to follow Black Metal pretty heavily, this is probably among my guiltiest of pleasures. It is definitely something that seeks an audience beyond the genre that it is influenced by, and that tends to lose it points in the credibility department for many. I’m a little chuckled at the obvious pointlessness of this song needing to be shortened by 27 seconds in order to make it suitable as a video on the MTV rotation, but the enjoyable instrumental version of the album’s magnum opus “The Heretic Hammer” makes up for it. If you liked anything off of “Anthems To The Welkin At Dusk”, don’t follow mainstream music media in any way, and you wouldn’t mind hearing that style of music repackaged into something much simpler and more polished production wise, check this out and the full length that it came from.
Yeah, we all know the story of Dimmu Borgir and their past/present situations, so I'm not going to go through a history lesson or a breakdown of that. Focusing on the single of the first song on their most recent album, In Sorte Diaboli, The Serpentine Offering is the best or tied for the best song on the album – which isn’t saying too much considering the rest of the songs are rather bland or generic; with the exception of the kickass The Sacriliegious Scorn. This song starts with some exceptional black metal/Middle Eastern stylized orchestration that I admit is quite fucking awesome, very epic and bold way to start the song off. It shortly leads into a riff that is quite fun to headbang to and solid drumming from the legendary Hellhammer. Throughout the song, the drumming is prominent in the way that Hellhammer is always present in every album he works on which is a good thing.
The song swiftly creeps along with the same riff and the orchestration in the background making this even more badass, Hellhammer proves to be worthy and the guitars seem to be adequate and proving of making some form of attempt at capturing the ears of the listener and make you headbang, but not stepping over into extraordinary. Shagrath steps in a third way into the song and performs well, probably most black metal elitists won’t enjoy his approach but I rather enjoy it enough. He is easy to understand and there are several parts in the song like the chorus that are easy and fun to sing along to, the only downside is that he gets rather raspy and annoying and sounds like he’s croaking.
“My descent is the story of every man! I am Hatred, Darkness, and Despair!”
The best part of this song though is the clean vocals sung in by ICS Vortex. Holy hell he has quite a voice… I wish he would be used more often, he has this small passage in the middle of the song that makes this so much better. He’s almost divine with his powerful set of pipes, I’m glad Dimmu Borgir added this.
Overall I think the song is fun to listen to, sing a long and headbang but only if the rest of In Sorte Diaboli had sounded like this. I recommend people to check out this song if they are interested in a symphonic black metal song with a nice addition of clean vocals if you have an open mind that is. If only the rest of the album sounded like this single.
"The Serpentine Offering", unlike the other songs of the album "In Sorte Diaboli", contains by itself the entire essence of the album. The best song of the album, and one of the best song of Dimmu Borgir's history.
Do you ask me why I think like this? Well, I think the reason is obvious: the song is one of the most solid black metal songs I've ever listened to. Most of the black metal songs include only harsh vocals, speed riffs and no logic and sequence in their lyrics. But Dimmu Borgir has always gone further away from the typical parameters of the black metal genre, including clean vocals, solid satanic topics for their lyrics, and even symphonic elements. And "The Serpentine Offering" is an excellent proof of that.
But the thing that makes this single that great is the music video that was made for it. A very few times I've seen another video better than this one. It's almost perfect in every aspect: story, quality, characters... And it describes perfectly the concept of the album, just like the song does.
I have never agreed with those ones who believe that this single sounds like crap: I think it is great and it's worth every cent that is paid for it. So, forget what you've listened and read about it and just listen to the song.
I'm not too familiar with the complete discography by Dimmu Borgir, but after listening to this, I surely don't want to hear the new album any longer.
I heard some people raving about the upcoming "In Sorte Diaboli" album and how it brought back the riffs and more of a real black metal sound. I wasn't naive enough to believe it, but I still wanted to check if the shitty elements most prevalent on "Deathcult Armageddon" have disappeared or at least lessened.
The answer is, of course, no.
Luckily, I chose this single instead of wasting valuable bandwidth for the full album. "The Serpentine Offering" can be summarized in a few words: faggotry keyboards, br00tal gr00ve riffs + shitty, monotone vocals.
The lack of real guitar riffs is the most apparent problem here, because the actual "riffs" that appear in this song sound as if they were the offspring from some mid-90s groove metal band ("Walk", anyone?). They simply don't fit to sub par raspy screams (or shall I say, talking?) and walls of keyboard noise.
Shagrath has improved a slight bit though, but that doesn't say much, since I can't remember hearing a worse "black" metal vocalist than him before. Most of his vocal work on this single sounds like exaggerated talking in a screechy tone.
They said that Hellhammer plays on this album, but all I hear is some average doublebass/fill work which could literally be any half-decent drummer out there.
Enough of the bashing, let's get to the positive points of this album.
Oh, wait, there are none. This is simply as bland as it gets.