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Quite surprised to find Still Remains a part of the archive. As they are quite obviously emo / mallcore styled metal. (Yet Soulfly, whose last album was totally thrashing and are fully metal don’t make the cut?). But what I find more surprising is that this album is, um… good.
The melodic keyboard opener “The Serpent” is dazzling and leads well into the crushing “Waxed Walls Of An Empty Room”, which is the album’s highlight as far as I’m concerned. A truly awesome song (if you’re into that sort of thing. I.e. die-hard Cynic fans steer clear). The first noticeable difference from the band’s previous album is the clean singing, which is infinitely more present than on Of Love And Lunacy. It is followed up solidly with “Stay Captive” that shows a bit more of the band’s poppy, accessible side, which was already abundant on the opener.
The Middle section of the album seems to blend together as the songs become inseparable from one another and there isn’t many standout or distinguishable moments, yet the songs still retain a high quality and don’t become boring although lacking distinguishable and / or memorable qualities. That is until “Dancing With The Enemy”. This track could be a Backstreet Boys cover and you’d never know and will probably turn a lot of fans of Of Love And Lunacy’s semi-brutal and riff orientated approach (which I found try-hard and uninteresting even if there were a few good riffs here and there) off The Serpent if the rest of the album hasn’t already. I like the track myself but I can see it riding them of any credibility within the metal community due to it’s boy bandish quality and thumping electro pop back beat. Following up is “The River Song”, another favourite of mine, which brings back the quality of the first 2 songs and the opening instrumental.
Many people will be willing to write them off as the mainstream, accessible version of Killswitch Engage or As I Lay Dying, which at the end of the day they are, but people with an open mind who respect and appreciate that a band’s willingness to experiment with a more polished, poppy and accessible sound can sometimes bring out the best in them (eg. Nirvana’s Nevermind, In Flames’s Colony) and that there’s more to music than necro-black metal and grindcore may well find something worthy of being labelled a magnum opus in The Serpent.