SERPENTCULT - Raised By Wolves CD
I have this Belgium band's 2008 debut release Weight Of Light which came out on Rise Above Records. That was some incredible sounding crunchy downtuned destruction accented with the wails of their vocalist Michelle Nocon. So when I saw this new one come in for review I was, shall we say, slightly excited. So while I'm listening to the opening title cut I'm wondering where are the female vocals? I'm not saying that Michelle Nocon was the complete draw for this band but it did set them apart from all of the other female fronted Doom bands out there especially when you figure in that their sound is thunderous. So from I've read Michelle Nocon left in 2010 and the rest of the band (guitarist Frederic Caure, bassist Steven Van Cauwenbergh and drummer Frederik Cosemans) have continued on as a doom power-trio.
After a few spins it's obvious that this material was written without Nocon's vocals in mind. SERPENTCULT still serves up crunch filled sludge with riffs that contain the weight of the world upon them. Although the four long cuts on Raised By Wolves represent the trio exploring a more post rock ambiance. The opening title cut starts out with the sound of thunder and pouring rain then goes into a doom dirge loop until finally exploding forth with vocal shouts crying out over the waves of ambient drone. The distorted riffs escalate with intensity and filth as the song moves along at a snail's pace. Three quarters of the way through I was thinking Michelle who? The thunder and rain returns to close things out. "Raised By Wolves" is not what I'd call a happy opener since it conveys more misery than watching the nightly news. Better yet I don't end up throwing things at the stereo.
"Crippled And Frozen" continues with the depressing scenario in a completely instrumental structure. Here is where the post rock ambiance saturated with high end distorted trebled guitar riffs takes you on a hypnotic psych trip for close to ten minutes. I probably would have enjoyed it better with the room lights off, strobe light on and some incense burning. "Longing For Hyperborea" is another long jam session which didn't require the strobe light in order to become part of the trippy experience. In fact I was put off by it's desert session's style of grungy stoner groove. The final installment, "Growth Of The Soil", at least returns to the sludge albeit sliding along on the slime that the above mentioned snail was doing at a faster pace then this cut. While the band was definitely shooting for a hypnotic effect I found myself dozing off and would have fell into a deep sleep if it weren't for the shouts which come near the songs closing. Obviously without their vocal muse for excitement this release if more background noise for house chores.
Well there is not any vids for this release on Youtube. So here's some live stuff when the band still had their vocalist, Michelle Nocon