Released: 2009, Siege of Amida Records
Good god no. This encapsulates neatly in 35 minutes what is wrong with deathcore. This is exactly the kind of record that will be held up in years to come and pointed to when newbie metalheads seeking enlightenment ask, "This deathcore thingy, it was quite shit while it lasted, wasn’t it?" Wizened heads (and shattered necks) will nod and say, "Yes, if you can find one redeeming feature in THE SERPENT SERVANT, you will be the first…"
Impending Doom are a Californian deathcore band, and possibly the only thing remotely interesting about them is that they are overtly Christian. The good lord permeates the lyrics and the liner notes. Now this wouldn’t be a problem to me if they were actually any good. Unfortunately, their music is as bland and trite as the militant messages of Christ-martyrdom that they try to push on everyone willing (and unwilling) to listen.
Let’s start with the lyrics. Give me Cannibal Corpse’s mindless gore or Deicide’s overt Satanism any day. At least Corpse’s entrails and shattered cunts are sliced-tongue-in-ripped-cheek, AND they make it sound rather cool, if nothing else. Glen Benton just sounds funny. But here, it’s just painful. I mean come on, lyrics like “Choir of disciples/Storming the gates of hell/Our whispers will silence your roars/and our roars will wreck your lives” (‘Storming the Gates of Hell’) are just as bad lyrically as any self-respecting bible-raping death/black metal band. They take it seriously enough that I have to take it seriously, and I can’t take it seriously. Here’s another gem from ‘Revival: America’: “The ending is better than the beginning/What has been given will last forever/May these words not diminish with short term memories/but may the echoes resonate eternity/Manifested through me.”
But the music is the real shocker. I can forgive poor lyric-writing and a questionable life philosophy. But this music is just awful. There’s about three riffs and a half in the whole album, and those riffs are palm-muted on guitars tuned to Z. Or is it Z flat? Breakdowns galore played on the lowest string known to Man, and note the singular “string”. It’s not even average slam/deathcore, it’s BELOW average slam/deathcore. On a track like ‘More Than Conquerors’ about halfway through, the guitars sound like they’re farting in a sea of treacle while doing the tango scene from Al Pacino’s SCENT OF A WOMAN. And no, that’s not a compliment in any way.
The drummer sounds like he actually gives half a shit, but he can’t save the poor musicianship and lack of creativity from the rest of his band. The singer’s brutal roar hides the fact that he has no dynamics or variation, so I guess ‘one-dimensional’ is the word I’m groping for.
Leaving aside the fact that they’re Christian – and we all know Christians should stick to building cathedrals, gospel choirs and Mozart’s requiems, and leave the death and black metal to the rest of us – they’re just bloody awful. There’s no way around it. This would sound just as awful if it came to us from the death metal supergroup of all death metal supergroups of all time. As it is, it comes to us via five pious guys who got a wee bit sick of strumming acoustic guitars around campfires in California. Christian metal could do with more Virgin Black and less of this crap. THE SERPENT SERVANT will probably appeal to the straight-edge crowd who have funny hairdos and hide their tattooed arms with long-sleeved button-up shirts when going to Sunday church with the family. Serious metalheads need not apply. Fuck off back to your Vital Remains, and I hear Beherit has just released a new blasphemous record.