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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.