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Thy Serpent > Death > Reviews > hakarl
Thy Serpent - Death

Not up to par - 49%

hakarl, September 28th, 2012

The last release, so far, by Finns Thy Serpent, "Death" is an EP comprising four new tracks. The music functions based on two opposing aesthetics, one typically melodic autumnal style, and one black and death metal rooted. Of these two, the former is far more prevalent, and the latter subdued by lack of suitably dark and aggressive material. The music essentially varies between sad, wistful fluff and a more brutal (although extremely meekly so) black and death metal style. The music is hardly black metal anymore, even with the "melodic" prefix, as it's mostly mid-paced melodic heavy metal with occasional bursts of aggression (all of which are rendered quite powerless by the overly clean, plastic production and the lack of speed).

As the opening song "Deathbearer" starts, the sound and style are immediately recognisable as Finnish, based on semi-legendary bands like Rapture (especially the album "Futile"). Thy Serpent isn't doom metal by any stretch, but the similar streamlined melodic aesthetic and encompassing, vast wall of sound can be heard, even if there is always the dark twist that shows the music's blacker roots. "Deathbearer" smoothly moves on from the melodic, mellow passages that are rich in harmony and fluffy, reverb-heavy sounds to a vaguely death metal-esque riff. Somewhat distant, processed-sounding growls sing the verse with multiple lead guitar layers acting as the main focal point of th music. Melodic passages are followed by more evil-sounding ones, with crunchy, heavy rhythm guitar sounds, and some synth and guitar leads recalling the more typical evil black metal melodic aesthetic. The streamlined style, smooth and extremely polished sound recall Evoken somewhat, although the music is naturally much faster, the approach less atmospheric and the songwriting far less meandering and exuberant. More importantly, Thy Serpent's music utterly lacks the depth and atmosphere of Evoken, "Death" being mainly extremely tepid and trite.

"Wounds of Death" is a simple, melody-oriented track with obvious leanings towards typical saccharine Finnish doom metal. The melody writing is particularly obviously recognisable as Finnish, featuring the same typical modal characteristics and chord progressions and so many of their melodic countrymate bands. The song is largely irritating, but there's also an excellent guitar lead that wouldn't have sounded at all out of place on one of the later Insomnium albums, or if made considerably slower, perhaps a Shape of Despair album. "Sleep in Oblivion" is thankfully a more intense track, starting with riffs that could actually classify as black metal, and not even with the "melodic" prefix. Sadly the effect isn't quite as great as desired, courtesy of the debilitatingly smooth production, unexciting performance and subdued harsh vocals. The first half of "Sleep in Oblivion" is perhaps the only track on the entire EP whose material even warrants the use of harsh vocals – the rest of the track is, again, forgettable mundane sentimental melodic and harmonic fluff. The majority of it is outright impossible to recall after listening, and almost no part of the entire EP is worth remembering either. "Parasites" is extremely similar to Rapture's "Futile", and while it's pleasant to listen to due to the pretty harmonies, it's nothing but a quick snack for instant gratification. The song, as the entire record, lacks anything worthwhile to counterpoint the saccharine melodies. The music lacks contrast, making it painfully one-dimensional and forgettable. Even when the individual melodies and harmonies are quite beautiful and cleverly written, the fact that the vast majority of each song is filler material – sometimes vaguely based on the occasionally interesting main themes – makes "Death" a chore to sit through, despite its fairly low running time. There are so few changes in drumming styles, tempos and rhythms that even with only great material the album would deserve criticism for being so monochromatic. With mostly throwaway material and but some moments of quality, this shortcoming is doubly serious.

"Death" EP leaves much to be desired in terms of songwriting, performance and production. If only the first half of the second track is quite awful, the rest of the album still fails to be particularly enjoyable in any other way than functioning as mainly harmless background music. The riffs and guitar leads are so slippery and forgettable even in their most intense moments (which are few) that it's quite difficult to actually enjoy the listening experience. Unless plethora of lead guitar layers and saccharine melodic metal are your pet hates, this will probably not be a terrible listening experience, but it's equally unlikely to be very rewarding either.