This album was supposed to have been released on 06/06/06 but for some reason we got the “When In Sodom” EP instead. I enjoyed said EP quite a bit, especially since it showed the band injecting more raw old school Death and Thrash elements to their loved/hated “Death ‘n Roll” style, something they definitely needed to do since their last full-length (2003’s “Inferno”) was a complete stinker IMO. Fast forward a year and I’m holding their latest creation called “Serpent Saints – The Ten Amendments” in my hands. Any good?
Well, yes. For the most part anyway. This album picks up where the aforementioned EP left off and after a few listens I can already state that this album stands alongside “Morning Star” as the best ENTOMBED album since “Wolverine Blues”. The recent line-up changes didn’t affect their sound one iota and as a whole this album is a lot heavier and darker than anything they’ve put out since the early 90s. The heavy parts are heavier, the fast parts are faster and the atmospheric passages are not as dotty as before. Actually I found very little “Death ‘n Roll” elements on this disc, as these songs don’t really rely on simple grooves to get their point across. Instead this album emphasizes more the Death/Thrash and Death/Doom side to these Swedes. The opening two tracks kicks down the door with a much-missed intensity, with the title track rocking out with a solid old-school Thrash riff after a brief piano intro. Seriously, that main riff could’ve featured on any early SLAUGHTER or BATHORY album. “Masters Of Death” is more straightforward Death Metal with some pretty eerie (and effective) Black Metal-like shrieks swirling around in the background. These shrieks show up sporadically throughout the album and it adds a vibe of *evil* to this band that I quite frankly haven’t heard too often before. “Amok” is a slower Punk-ish track that is neither here nor there. The chorus is decent but the main riffing kinda goes nowhere. “Thy Kingdom Coma” represents the low-point of the album. Luckily it is the only track that can be called all-out filler. The best track then is “When In Sodom”, a highly potent mid-paced crusher with a memorable intro and a strange yet fitting Alice Cooper-ish keyboard line during the chorus. It’s dark, twisted and totally moshpit-worthy!
The second half of the album varies between good and average, with “Warfare, Plague, Famine And Death” being a crunchy Thrasher, and the oddly titled “The Dead, The Dying And The Dying To Be Dead” being a slower, more experimental number that starts off with some choppy riffs before settling into a slow “groove”. Of course there’s no way you can integrate that line into a chorus and make it stick but they give it a try anyway, so cheers to them! “In The Blood” is also more mid-paced but LG’s deep growling during the chorus (can’t really tell if effects were added) is a joy to behold. And just again – those menacing Black Metal vocals in the background are fucking sweet! An ambient-ish outro closes off the album in a harrowing haze.
So yeah, this album is pretty neat. Barring a few plodding moments here and there this album is remarkably void of crap or cheese or a mixture of the two. Clearly a fire has been lit under their asses and the result is a leaner, meaner ENTOMBED that can split skulls as easily as it can make them shake. Ooh, that rhymes. The production is suitably dirty but not muddy, while the lyrics are the standard tongue-in-cheek-Satanic stuff they’ve been churning out for a while now. It’s not smart but its fun.
I know this review is pretty generic but I think I said what needs to be said about this album – it’s not the best ENTOMBED album but there are enough nifty parts on here to quickly dispel any notion that these guys are past their expiry date. A solid, enjoyable listen.
(Online August 8, 2007)