Serpentine Path - Emanations - (7.5/10)
Published on May 31, 2014
Tearing down in order to create.
Arising out of the ashes of sludge trio Unearthly Trance, Serpentine Path is completed by Tim Bagshaw, who served with both Electric Wizard and Ramesses, and Stephen Flam of death/doom legends Winter. In other words, these guys collectively have some impressively bulky resumes. The band’s sophomore album Emanations is a mixture of brooding old school death metal and a sprinkling of lingering sludge, each musician carrying their own respective weight.
Flam was apparently not present for the promo shoot.
The addition of Flam to their ranks is telling; Serpentine Path owe a considerable debt to the murky barrage of Winter. Although Unearthly Trance was an outlet for more than a few experimental and bizarre tendencies, this path is far more conventional. Impenetrable crawling riffs are trudging along at the slower spectrum of Autopsy or Asphyx on a sweltering day, with Ryan Lipynsky’s guttural proclamations sounding truly caustic.
Bagshaw’s leads to some degree harken back to his former bands, adding a touch of eerie psychedelia to the macabre gallery. Still, the ominous weirdness of Ramesses has been toned down to better fit the classic death doom mold, often consigned to subtle background texture. It’s a bit of a disappointment that these formerly boundary-pushing lads have gone purely old school, but Serpentine Path makes no pretensions of being Unearthly Trance or Ramesses revisited. Tracks like “Disfigured Colossus” are suitably monstrous, rounded off by a riff that borders on melodic. It’s a rather straightforward approach, and I wouldn’t have minded a little more variety between the songs, but for the most part they make it work.
If you go into Serpentine Path expecting another behemoth of psychedelic sludge, you’ll probably be sorely disappointed. As a phlegmatic death metal album, Emanations succeeds in taking the formula one step beyond, in no small part due to Bagshaw’s haunting leads. Adjust your expectations accordingly, and Emanations is sure to hit the spot if you’re craving a gnarly slab of death doom metal.