Compilation ov Underground Black Metal
Philadelphia's Serpent ov Old is releasing the discography as a digital download in collaboration with Horror Pain Gore Death Productions. The centerpiece of the collection is 2012 full-length Withering Hope, a 37-minute slab of pure, old-school black metal aggression with elements that make it stand out. The first such element is synthesizer, used almost exclusively as a layer of atmosphere. But what really makes this record stand out is the guitar solos.
The solos are unrestrained shred on the edge of desperation. They would almost seem out of control, were it not for their perfect implementation, not to mention the guitarist's ability to reproduce them. Come to think of it, you could describe the vocals in similar terms.
Withering Hope is worth the price of admission by itself, but it isn't the only part of the compilation. The rest would best be viewed as bonus materials. EP Poison Pure Suicide (2012) has rougher versions of four of the songs from a time when the band was a one-man project. Serpent ov Synth (2012) is a companion piece to the other full-length, consisting only of the synth tracks and suitable only as background music. The two songs on 2013 EP Them, Thee Wicked are much slower and moodier, the synths more prominent, and honestly not a good direction for the band to be headed. Let's hope it was an experiment to be discarded before they release anything new.
The Verdict: 4 out of 5 stars