Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Serpent Venom: Carnal Altar (2011)


Have we reached full doom saturation yet? Maybe we have, and maybe we haven't. But you can't fault The Church Within--they've been dealing doom since long before it came into style.

Serpent Venom plays exactly the kind of Saint Vitus-referencing doom you expect to find on the label. Debut full-length Carnal Altar is slow and mellow. The bass tone is beautifully thick, a perfect fit for Sabbathian riffs with plenty of that Iommi vibrato. The vocals are clean, mid-range work that doesn't really add or subtract anything special, but simply keeps things moving along.

Others have referred to this as doom mixed with 70's rock. The album art certainly looks like something out of the 70's to me, but musically it's all Vitus and Sabbath as far as I can tell. So they don't really do anything new. (Not that this would be a new combination.) But the riffs are solid. "Four Walls of Solitude" has one that could make your balls drop, if you needed such a procedure.

Solid riffs alone are not enough, it would seem, to really elevate this beyond the competition. You also need dynamics. When the whole album goes at the same pace, it starts to fade into the background--until it speeds up in the last three minutes, making you realize what was missing all along. With no dynamics of tempo, vocals, rhythm, or anything else to speak of, it's a tough sell to anyone but the most dedicated doom freak. Even with some really badass riffs.

The Verdict: Fifty-three minutes of some solid doo, doo-doo-doo-doo, doo, doo, doo, followed by three of dadadadadada-da-da. I wish there was just a bit more of the latter here and there, but it's still pretty impressive. I give it 3.5 out of 5 stars.

No comments:

Post a Comment