Released: 2009, Self-released
Reviewer: Luxi Lahtinen
Luke from Boone, North Carolina, is back with his 1-man project act Coils of the Serpent, this time having recorded 9 songs for his debut full-length album, titled CITY OF STEEL.
Luke sent me his 6-track effort at the end of last year that left a relatively positive impact on me all in all. Having always been a little bit skeptical regarding all these 1-man project bands, I was basically surprised by how carefully he had composed all the instruments for his previous release all by himself, and making it sound like there could (almost) be a full band line-up behind that 6-track demo recording.
On Luke´s new 9-song offering, CITY OF STEEL, he basically continues with the same recipe that he already used for his previous recording, I would say, relatively successfully even. Mid-paced, creeping and occasionally atmospheric dark/black/heavy metal - with Luke´s somewhat disturbed vocal approach, is still the name of the game in his new recording, and he has seemed to be passionate and ambitious enough to record all the instruments for his 2nd opus by himself alone again.
The opening song, "Champions of Negation" is quite a monster of a tune with some beautiful acoustic passages, great melodies and its sorrowful, catchy atmosphere, already promising much of Luke´s 2nd attempt to conquer the world of metal. Unfortunately the next song, "Oath to the Valley" isn´t on the same par at all with the killer opening tune, I have to say. It sounds sloppy and just kind of lifeless - and the drumming in it, is just bad. "Infernal Black Eternal" is a bit better as a song again, but the drum parts sound terrible again. The drumming in this song simply sends a signal out that some amateur guy must be responsible for making the drums to sound unprofessional. Gladly with "The King of the City of Steel" Luke is back on track again, and creating something that turns my ears back to this opus once again. The song itself is a mid-paced, darkened heavy metal track, spiced with Luke´s yet-so-disturbing vocal parts.
"Ides of Failure" is again something that pleases me with its sort of demonic feel in it. It´s - surprise, a mid-tempo track in which Luke sounds like he has watched too many times the whole trilogy of "Evil Dead" movies. "Grand Lineage of Madness" does not make me want to turn my stereo off, but I just wished Luke could do something about those not-that-convincing drum parts (sorry for reminding constantly about them, but one cannot go through all the songs with the same beats all the time. He should seriously at least consider hiring a skilled drummer for this future efforts).
"Black Stone Monument: Monolith Part Two", is a somewhat epic and eerie sounding song - probably the slowest number Luke has recorded for this 9-track slap. It has this certain specific sorrowful atmosphere that tends to stick to you like used gum, over and over again. One of my very favorite cuts from this recording for sure.
The last two songs "The Elite" and "From the Black Gates" are also both pretty well-done in terms of some good ideas and catchiness in both of these 2 songs. If something can be wished, he could always pay a little bit more attention to his song structures by adding more shredding solos here and there, tempo changes and things like that - and of course most importantly, improving those drums parts to make his songs ultimately catch all of our attention, without making us even to think this song just doesn´t go anywhere and it only drags too much, you know.
CITY OF STEEL is, however, a solid effort from Luke even if his previous 6-track recording MONOLITH was - in the name of all honesty, slightly better - and somehow even more thought out and mature sounding as a wholeness, in my sincere opinion.